We haven’t done one of these Utah Royals FC-specific roundtables in a while. But with two months left in the NWSL season, and with the way the season has turned a table (Ha, see what I did there), the question I wondered this week: Will Utah Royals FC reach the playoffs?
You’ll know the voices here from our usual Royals coverage as we answer this very important question.
Before the game against the North Carolina Courage, I was hopeful. Even with a draw, I very much still believed Utah Royals FC could still make the playoffs. After the 2-1 loss, I’m not entirely positive they will. Currently, Royals FC hold the number seven position with a 5-5-3 record with 18 points. That’s eight points away from first place Portland Thorns, and three from fourth place. So, technically, there’s still plenty of opportunities for them to return to the top four, especially with 10 games left.
My biggest concern isn’t so much the standings right now. What worries me, and what could ultimately be salt in the wound, is how Utah is playing right now. In the past four games, Utah has allowed seven goals. The defense looks shaky, even more now with the return of Rachel Corsie. I don’t want it to seem like I’m placing blame on one player, but if we look back at those goals allowed, Corsie made decisions that cost URFC those goals. Corsie does not look like the Rachel Corsie we’re used to seeing. The World Cup may have shaken her confidence, and with soccer being a mental game as well, Corsie may still be affected by the way Scotland was eliminated from the World Cup. And that is Laura Harvey’s job to recognize and make the changes that is best for the team.
In short, will Utah Royals FC reach the playoffs? If they keep playing the way they do, no.
The math is not on their side. They would have to win most of their remaining games and draw pretty much the rest. But this season in the NWSL has been an unusual one with big wins and losses seemingly every week. If they can find a way to string a run of wins together against teams above them in the standings, they have a chance.
Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, and Vero all are keys on the attack. O’Hara has to be more involved even if it pushes her off the backline and higher up the pitch. With Vero seemingly healthy again, I think there is a reason to have some hope.
I’d put their chances at a solid 35% at the moment of making the playoffs.
It pains me to say this, but I don’t think they will. The game against the Courage showed that something is off with this team, and none of us can figure it out.
The offense has a spark with Christen Press back in the lineup, but the spark has not been enough. Utah needs to create more chances to score, but the midfield isn’t helping create those chances. Vero is playing well and is creating some, but it is not enough.
Strangely enough, the defense hasn’t been looking as bright, and I would’ve thought either. Corsie had a rough game against the Courage. Sauerbrunn had the own goal against the Thorns. There’s something off with the whole team, and I have no clue what it is.
With all of the problems going on, Utah needs to fix them as soon as possible. I think Utah needs to win out to make it, but with the way they’re playing now, that won’t happen.
I want to see it happen because a team should always get better every year, and they just missed out on making it last season.
That said, I’m in agreement with my fellow writers here that things don’t look bright for the Golden Lionesses at the moment. The trends from the inaugural season haven’t worked themselves in a positive direction, and some have gotten worse, notably the lack of connection in the midfield. It may take a trade or new signing of some kind to bring another talent into the middle of the pitch - a player who can smooth the transition from the defense to the attack and has some vision and creativity to help Vero distribute to the forwards. If someone currently on the roster isn’t going to do it, the team needs help fast.