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The Royal Watch: NWSL is about to start 2020. Sorta.

NWSL competition is so near. Here’s the latest.

2020 NWSL Draft Photo by Jose Argueta/ISI Photos/Getty Images

It’s mid-June. By now, we’d be two months into the 2020 NWSL season, but of course, no one expected COVID-19 to get so out of hand. At least, I certainly didn’t. I hope everyone reading this is well. We’re certainly in uncharted territory, but everyone must continue to stay safe. So far, so good on my end, and anticipating the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup to start next weekend.

Honestly, soccer is on the last of my list of priorities right now. I’m looking forward to some sort of competition. I’ve watched about 45 minutes of Bundesliga, and 10 minutes of the Premier League yesterday afternoon. I hope to invest more time to the league I cover. There’s been a lot of news and rumors lately. Here’s the latest.

Tziarra King and Kate Del Fava have contracts now

Two out of three rookies drafted in the 2020 NWSL College Draft have signed with the club for 2020, with an option for 2021. King was selected eighth overall as Utah’s first-ever first-round selection in the College Draft (Utah traded the pick in each of the club’s first two seasons). King, already a fan favorite, capped her senior season at North Carolina State with 13 goals in 23 appearances in 2019. Del Fava was selected in the second round, 12th overall. She signed with Utah after a standout college career at Illinois State where she scored 25 goals in 84 appearances over four seasons.

Utah also signed newcomer Marissa Sheva to a short-term agreement. The midfielder joins URFC after playing for Deportivo Alavéz in the Spanish second division. She was a collegiate standout at Penn State University, scoring 13 goals and adding 9 assists in four years. Sheva helped the program to its first-ever NCAA National Championship in 2015.

Is Christen Press for real not playing in the Challenge Cup?

No official word, but it’s inevitable, and either the club is in denial or will just not address it. However, the cat is out of the bag since it’s been reported, and Press is notably absent from training or any sort of URFC promotional videos. It’s unfortunate that Utah’s key player will not be playing, and it’s a huge loss for the team.

Now before a Press superfan comes after me, a player does have the right to deny participation in the tournament, especially if that player does not feel comfortable playing soccer during the pandemic, and no one will blame her for it. But we can admit that we’ll miss her skills and contributions.

Is the RSL organization is still playing the furlough game?

We can definitely get excited about the tournament, and we should hype it as much as possible. The NWSL is the first sports league in the U.S. to return, even if the other sports media outlets are not telling you, but we know in our hearts what’s up. And as much as I want to get excited, it feels bittersweet, too.

In April, the RSL organization reduced the salary for all executives and staff, and furlough other workers in response to the shutdown in the wake of COVID-19. Last month, Dell Loy Hansen, at the conference call with the NWSL after announcing the Challenge Cup, said the club is planning to add “30 to 40 people” back to the organization.

Not sure who those 30 to 40 people are, but they’re definitely not on the URFC side. As far as we know, RSL has yet to bring back its URFC staff who, in the past two seasons, have contributed significantly to Utah Royals FC. For example:

And there’s more, but that deserves its own story. So while we can look forward to the tournament because we support our club and the league, know that this is more of a win for Hansen than anything.

The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup kicks off June 27 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah. Hope you have your calendars marked: URFC will face the Washington Spirit on June 30, Chicago Red Stars on July 4, and OL Reign on July 8 before concluding the Group Stage on July 12 against the North Carolina Courage.

Stay safe, friends.