Christen Press had an outstanding season with Utah Royals FC in 2019, despite missing 10 games due to USWNT duties.
Press first joined the Royals in the summer of 2018. It was a midseason move that saw the US international return to the NWSL after a brief stint in Europe, with Brooke Elby going to Chicago in exchange for Samantha Johnson (interestingly both players have now retired). That first season did not see Press at her most effective, and understandably so. It’s not easy to join a brand new team midway through their first season. But 2019 we saw Press put her stamp on the squad.
After the World Cup, Press was one of the few US players to rejoin their NWSL teams without seeming exhausted by the victory. Her limited, but successful, minutes in France propelled her to excellence in the league when others needed rest or recovery.
Of her 8 league goals, Press scored 5 with her right foot, 2 with her left, and 1 with her head. 6 of those goals were inside the box, and 2 outside; all of which is evident of the multi-threat she provides in attack. When she returned to Utah, the team was struggling at a time when the likes of North Carolina, Chicago, and Portland were doing very well. The team soon turned around, in part due to Press’ influence in the team.
Her season wasn’t perfect, though. The American attacker had a goal-scoring slump from the end of August to the end of September; a time when Utah was in desperate need of points. She had just 1 assist in those 5 games, and that game was the only win for Utah (an eventful 1-0 win over Portland) during that period. Despite that stretch, she proved to be an invaluable part of the team and certainly raised Utah’s game overall.
Christen Press was able to stay healthy for all of 2019, for both club and country, which made a massive difference for the Royals. Her speed, technical ability, and football intelligence make her a world class attacker. She should be back in Utah for the 2020 NWSL season. With no expansion happening in the league this season, the threat of URFC losing players has been drastically reduced. It’s an Olympic year, and with Alex Morgan missing much of the season while pregnant, it will be fascinating to see what Press is able to do on the national team.