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Declarations from the Royals Court: Roar forever Sam Johnson

A loss is difficult. Saying goodbye to a good player is more difficult. In this installment, we talk about both.

Nikita Taparia

When Utah wins, they do it 1-0. And when they don’t, the trend is a 2-0 loss on the score sheet. For the third time this year, Royals FC has gone down 2-0 to a team that outplayed them. But while there were bolts of lightning and claps of thunder in the sky off in the distance, there was the sound of the cavalry coming.

As the official Chief Herald here at RSL Soapbox for the Utah Royals FC, my endeavor is to try and guide all through the wilds that is an NWSL season. And this season has been wild.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Goodbye Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson has retired from professional soccer. The team didn’t put anything out before the match nor was there any rumble of the news beforehand. And as NWSL news often does, social media was the delivery service of the news. Players posted congratulations to Johnson for a career well done over Instagram. And because fans and media know news often hits there before any official channels, we follow along.

While this has been far from a perfect year for Johnson, she has been a vital player for the team. Without her in the back, points would have lost. Instead of sitting in 4th with 17 points, it’s likely URFC would be sitting two or three spaces lower without less and less hope as the national team players returned. Thanks in part to Johnson, they have a real shot at not only making the playoffs but hosting one of the two matches.

The sound of sweet relief

Scotland, New Zealand and Canada being out of the Women’s World Cup in France is varying levels of expected as we head to the semifinal round.

The one positive for Katie Bowen, Desiree Scott and Rachel Corsie is that they will slide back into camp with a team that has the upcoming weekend off. An extra week to acclimate to club life and to get over the bitter sting of losing out on the World Cup allows the team to come together as they head toward the last 14 games of the season.

For the 14 games left on the schedule, Orlando and Washington are played once and Sky Blue, Portland, North Carolina, Chicago, the Reign and Houston each get played twice. Having the chance to get a shot at each team in the league, some of the teams Utah needs to make up ground on, as the internationals are making their way back is a huge win. Sure the other teams are getting their internationals back, too, but it should add a little more zing to matches.

The best laid plans of Laura Harvey

This season has had a central struggle between head coach Laura Harvey having a game plan and not always having the players to put that game plan to effective action.

This team has bent often this year, but they haven’t broken nearly as much as they had a right to. Harvey has made missteps, and she has trusted players who couldn’t quite live up to that. But sometimes, she has put her trust in them, and they have flown to heights that we may not have expected.

The best version of this team is just what Laura Harvey wants, and the type of team she can coach to greatness. The problem is that for over 1/3 of the season, it wasn’t the team she created, but the light version of it. Now that half of the international pool will be back, with Vero hopefully coming back shortly from injury, we get to see the type of team Harvey envisioned.

The Most Noble Order of the Lioness

Last time I did nominations for the Most Noble Order of the Lioness, it was a goal from Amy Amy Rodriguez, and the skill of Nicole Barnhart I was touting.

Today, it is Sam Johnson for a career well done. You helped keep the backline strong at a time they needed you most. For this, I am officially waiving the second nomination and sending you directly to be a Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Lioness. May you roar forever.

And that means Nicole Barnhart, Vero Boquete and Sam Johnson are Companions of the Most Noble Order of the Lioness. Desiree Scott, Amy Rodriguez, Christen Press, and Rachel Corsie need one more nomination to officially join the order.