While I am still slightly saltier than the Great Salt Lake of Utah about the USWNT players missing this game that was before the official opening of the USWNT pre-World Cup tournament camp, Utah Royals FC did put on a show for one and all.
As the official Chief Herald here at RSL Soapbox, it is always a pleasure to bring you thoughts on Royals FC each week. This week was the most fruitful of the young season so far despite the pace of the game over the first half.
And as always the Most Noble Order of the Lioness for the best player of the week was a blast to think about.
Let’s begin, shall we?
No USWNT players was less of an issue than you’d think
The Royals played as a unit even without the USWNT players to run the show. Even without Christen Press there to make runs or Becky Sauerbrunn in the back to smoother danger before it became a problem, the team looked like it was playing with the same brand of purpose they had the first two weeks.
While there was no Kelley O’Hara to provide a spark off the bench, the team managed to hold their own against the first 2018 playoff team they faced in the Chicago Red Stars. The game was markedly slower in pace than the first two matches, but the tempo suited the slightly different XI of Utah.
I would be remiss not to mention the red card that took Katie Johnson out of the match for Chicago and gave Utah an 11 v 10 advantage for a full half. I will let y’all fight in the comments if it swung the game one way or another.
Amy “ARod” Rodriguez is getting chances, now she needs to finish them
Over the first few games of the Royals season, Amy Rodriguez has shown she can still find space in order to take shots. In her 226 minutes, she has taken 7 shots with 3 on frame and 1 goal to show for it. The same shots, shots on frame and goal numbers as Christen Press has in 180 minutes.
While Press is away, ARod needs to be able to not only find open spaces but to put them in the back of the net. Let’s see if now that she’s open her scoring account that she can add to it over the next few matches.
URFC has one of the best home post-game moments
There are very few post-game rituals in the NWSL. Other than the players taking a lap around the pitch, there are really only two that stand out.
The Thorns and Riveters have their rose ceremony in Portland, and in Utah, URFC and their fans from The Court and others tap into the Icelandic heritage of Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jónsdóttir” and do a Viking Thunder Clap after their home games.
If you want to hear more about this, Ryan Kelly has a great piece on it here on RSL Soapbox.
The Most Noble Order of the Lioness
And now for that most special time where we must speak of the nominations for The Most Noble Order of the Lioness.
This week the honor of nomination goes to Verónica “Vero” Boquete. Since coming to Utah, Vero has been a breath of fresh air for the team. No other player that has been under Harvey’s command, short of maybe Jess Fishlock, and has the perfect mix of playing style and grit that Harvey looks for. Playing higher on the pitch suites her well, and now that internationals are leaving the league, she has a real chance to spend the next few months showing that her legend status is well-deserved.
That leaves Desiree Scott and Christen Press both needing one more nomination to become a Companion.