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What we learned: Utah Royals vs. OL Reign

Newcomers are beginning to make a difference to the Royals

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Here are three major takeaways from the Utah Royals FC’s first home game at Rio Tinto this season as the 2020 NWSL Fall Series continues.

The Royals may finally be moving away from seasoned players

There were only three changes to the starting lineup that lost 3-0 in Portland last Sunday. The inclusion of 23-year-old Melissa Lowder with her first start in goal was probably forced by a new knee injury to Abby Smith and the continuing achilles issues of Nicole Barnhart. However, the inclusions of an “older’ Veronica Boquete and Mallory Weber in place of the “younger” Taylor Lytle and Michelle Maemone were enough to raise the overall age of the team to nearly 30. Still, 2020 newcomers Aminata Diallo, Elizabeth Ball, Kate del Fava and Tziarra King seem to have broken through to find regular time on the field and continue to display their skills despite the low key nature of the 2020 Fall series.

The Royals can score goals

After a goal drought that lasted though more than four matches, the return home to Rio Tinto ignited the Royals offense enough for two early goals and a short-lived lead. Both goals were scored by newcomers (see above) with a very long strike by Aminata Diallo in the corner and a wonderful wide open header by Tziarra King. The Royals also created another six shots on target and seemed much more connected on offense than last week in Portland At points, they even managed to drive the action on field and have a step on the OL Reign who were only in their first match of the Fall 202 Series.

The Royals, and the NWSL, need a solid run of games

The ongoing disruptions of 2020 continue to demonstrate the value of conditioning and regular games. The Royals, and their opponents in the NWSL, still regularly fail to find that final pass or higher gear. For brief moments, the Royals look like a team that has an instinctual knowledge of where their teammates are and how best to play the ball. However, just as frequently they look like a pickup team just thrown together and intent on booting the ball around in hopes of the best. Small wonder that many are moving on loan from the NWSL to Europe in search of regular playing time and the conditioning it allows.