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Utah Royals FC lose home opener vs. Chicago Red Stars

A disappointing 2-0 loss for Utah Royals FC vs. the Chicago Red Stars, but it's only the first game of the season, so nobody panic.

Utah Royals FC lose home opener vs. Chicago Red Stars
Photo Credit: Lucas Muller | Wasatch Soccer Journal

The Utah Royals FC return to the NWSL began with a disappointing loss against the Chicago Red Stars, losing 2-0 in front of packed stadium. Certainly not an ideal start to the season. We were reminded tonight, however, that this is a very young and inexperienced team.

And though this young team controlled the first 20 minutes of the game and won in the stats, in terms of possession (67.5%), passing accuracy (82.4%), shots (19 to 10), it was Chicago who eventually turned the game in their favor and finished their chances in the second half, and a team that capitalizes on their opportunities is always going to be the game-winner.

The Royals began to lose control of the game by mid-first half, and slowly allowed the Red Stars to break down the defense in the second half. Ally Schlegel scored for Chicago in the 50th minute, and Ava Cook made it 2-0 in the 76th minute. Chicago also has goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who was a difference maker for the Red Stars this evening, with 5 key saves this evening.

The Good

A sell-out crowd of 20,370, breaking an attendance record for women's soccer in the state of Utah.

Head coach Amy Rodriguez commented on having a full stadium, “It was so special to play here because of our fan base and because of our community, and I think we got to see that tonight even bigger and better than ever before. I actually lost my voice tonight because the crowd was so loud. So, kudos to them for showing up for us and supporting us. I thought the team's energy was better because of them. And it's so great to see Utah showing up for us."

Utah had positives to build on: possession, passing and accuracy, and plenty of shots.

The Eek

The inexperience was evident, and players unable to be clinical was a major factor, even a player like Paige Monaghan struggled on the ball tonight. Utah has purposely chosen to have a younger team, one they want to build, but lacking NWSL veterans, especially proven goalscorers, may make it a long season in Salt Lake City.

It’s obviously game one of the season, and this team has a few things to figure out. Utah had an opportunity to get their first win over a Chicago team that is also rebuilding this year, but we have plenty of games left. If we have learned one thing in the NWSL is that anything can happen come November.

Stats Summary: URFC / CHI

Shots: 19 / 10

Shots on Goal: 5 / 4

Saves: 2 / 5

Corner Kicks: 6 / 5 Fouls: 7 / 10

Misconduct Summary:

URFC: Yellow (Sentnor, 44’);Yellow (Nyberg, 62’) 7 Total Fouls

CHI: Yellow (Hocking , 60’), Yellow (Ava Cook 90+6’) 10 Total Fouls

Lineups:

Utah Royals (4-3-3): Carly Nelson; Imani Dorsey, Kate Del Fava,Kaleigh Riehl, Madison Pogarch; Agnes Nyberg (Cam Tucker 70’), Frankie tagliaferri (Brecken Mozingo

69’), Dana Foederer; Paige Monaghan © (Ify Onumonu 88”), Hannah Betfort, Ally Sentnor

Subs not used: Cristina Roque, Addisyn Merrick, Mikayla Cluff, Emily Gray, Lauren Flynn, Michele Vasconcelos

Chicago Red Stars (4-2-3-1): Alyssa Naeher ©; Taylor Malham, Sam Staab, Natalia Kuikka, Maxi Rall; Cari Roccaro, Julia Bianchi, Nadia Gomes (Ally Cook 61’); Mallory Swanson(Jenna Bike 81’), Ally Schlegel (Ava Cook 61’), Penelope Hocking ( Sarah Griffith 90+4’)

Subs not used: Mackenzie Wood, Tatumn Milazzo, Hannah Anderson, Elizabeth Franklin, Leilanni Nesbeth

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