My first time and why it won’t be the last Royal’s match I attend

There is rarely enough time in a day or week for me to do all the things I want and need to do, I imagine your life is much the same.  I can say this, I will make more time in my schedule for the Utah Royals going forward. I can’t say i will attend every match but I can say that every match I can attend I will and if you are a RSL fan, or just a soccer fan in general I will recommend you do the same.

The biggest reason I am throwing my full support behind the Utah Royals is simple, they are entertaining to watch and easy to cheer for.  The game is a little bit slower and points maybe less technical (but not much) but it is a cleaner style, tackles are done with the intent of getting the ball, not taking an opposing player out. So while there are fouls, they are less frequent and that leads to less interruptions and better flow and flopping is a whole lot rarer than one tends to see in the men’s game.

Another reason is what I saw on my way to and from the match, that was families a whole lot of families going to the match.  The Royals’ tickets are less expensive than RSL tickets, this means it is easier for families to attend home matches and that is a great thing. Before, during and after the match I looked around the stands and it simply made me smile at the pure number of young girls there to cheer on their heroes.

It went further, there were more women there than at a typical RSL match, not a lot more but more and they were in groups and that bodes well for the Royals going forward.

and of course I found myself surrounded by RSL fans as well and there is plenty of room in the RSL family for fans of one or all the RSL brands.

Another sign of how successful the day was for the Royals is I heard from multiple people that the line to get into the team store was insane and that merchandise was flying off the shelves.  I do need to find me one of those nice Royals hat before the next home match.

So beyond the style of play of the women’s game and the amazing diversity of the fans on Saturday, the match itself was exciting.  I do think that the elevation took a toll on both sides, this was just the 3rd match of the NWSL season, and the first match in Salt Lake and we know that the elevation can cause even the fittest player to struggle to keep full pace for 90 minutes.  I think the style the Royals play is fun to watch, they go forward with numbers when they have the ball and everyone plays defense. Both sides did a great job of pressuring the ball when the opponents had it. There was no shying away from contact but nobody seemed to go looking for it and especially off the ball.

Watching a match thru the viewfinder of a camera is rough, and while doing it at RSL matches for 10 years now I can fairly often predict where the ball will go and where the attacks will come from, there was none of that on Saturday and that made it difficult to shoot but also exciting to watch to see where plays would develop, who would make runs and when.  I can’t wait to have a few more matches under my belt so I can get more shots during the match but I expect I will probably be looking over my camera more often because it was simply so much fun to watch from my little perch.

I hope that soccer fans of all sizes, shapes, sexes, ages, and every other variable in humanity take some time and come out to support the Royals, they are worth your time and money to catch some of the very best women’s soccer players in the world.  I honestly believe that Dell Loy Hansen is going to turn this team and part of the RSL organization into something special, and there is no better time to jump on the bandwagon than right now.

Here are a couple of quotes from the Royals locker room after the match:

Head Coach Laura Harvey

On the product on the field:
“With this team, and honestly with the women’s game generally, you’re going to get hard work, you’re going to get effort, you’re going to get people who put absolutely everything into the game. I don’t think there is ever a time where you question work ethic. The thing for us is we have to be better on the ball, and we have to find areas on the field where the space was. I think in this league you don’t get tons of chances, and when you do you’ve got to score. They got a decent chance and it was great finish and we had a couple of chances but couldn’t finish. So, if you look at the story of the game, that was probably it.”

On atmosphere affecting game:
“The crowd was amazing, unbelievable. To come out to this size of the crowd is great, but we have some of the best players in the world who’ve played in these occasions before. Everything around the game has been phenomenal. I think the coach’s fear is always that you get caught up in the occasion a little bit and I was very conscious that we didn’t do that. It’s hard not to when it is what it was. I’m not going to blame that because I don’t think that was the case. Games in this league are always frantic at the start, it is how it is. The NWSL is the best league in the world for a reason – because it’s so competitive. I thought both teams struggled to settle straight away, but I felt they settled quicker than we did on the ball. We found our rhythm at times, but that final pass was just little bit off.”

Defender Becky Sauerbrunn –

On the product on the field:
“It was ok. I think we have a few more levels that we can get to. We need to add a little more sophistication because we had more time on the ball than we thought we did. I think we had chances and if we put one of those on goal maybe one goes in. I thought it was pretty good, but I know we have better.”

On the atmosphere of the team’s first home game:
“The environment was unbelievable. Kudos to Utah for showing up and supporting us. It was something special today and I feel like I was a part of something special. It’s disappointing we didn’t get the win to add to the wonderful day but to play in front of a crowd like that, this is why we play soccer.

Yeah these folks are easy to like.

Here are a few more shots from the match, enjoy and see you on the 28th.

That’s How I See It!

 

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