SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – The fans showed up for the Utah Royals historic home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium, but the team could not deliver a victory.
In front of 19,203 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, the 8th largest crowd in NWSL history, the Chicago Red Stars got a goal from Danielle Colaprico in the 27th minute to hand the Royals (0-1-2) their first loss of the season.
“Hopefully we can build some momentum with the home games and right now its us racking up some points,” said Royals forward Amy Rodriguez. “Right now we’re kind of low in terms of points and I think we have to keep getting some points on the board and hopefully run away with this thing. We didn’t connect passes like we should and we let Chicago break us down a little bit and we gotta be better and I think going forward we’re going to work on that.”
“It’s an awesome environment,” Colaprico said. “We talked about it in the locker room, not to get wrapped up in it — and that’s what we did, and we came out here and got three points on the road.”
In the first half, Chicago stayed compact and picked apart Utah’s defense. Five minutes before Colaprico scored, she nearly grabbed an assist when she got the ball to teammate Yuki Nagasato, who unleashed a left-footed shot that pinged off the left post.
Both sides entered halftime with five shots total, but the Red Stars controlled the half with more cohesive play compared to their expansion opponent and the lone shot on goal was Colaprico’s score.
Early in the second half, Utah’s Lo’eau LaBonta cleared a ball off the line that prevented Chicago from taking two-goal lead.
The Royals began pressuring more as the second half progressed, and Chicago goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher played high and was forced to run off the line a couple times to prevent dangerous shots. In the 56th minute, Royals midfielder Gunnhildur Yrsa Jonsdottir forced Naeher to make the only save of the night when she received a pass from teammate Diana Matheson and sent a shot toward the bottom right corner of the net.
After a few minutes of constant attack in Chicago’s box around the 67th minute, Utah forward Elise Thorsnes broke free and charged goal but was called offside.
The home crowd continued to cheer on its new team, hoping to spur a comeback, and gave a loud round of applause to Amy Rodriguez when she subbed on for Matheson in the 77th minute. It was Rodriguez’ first NWSL match since tearing her ACL almost exactly a year ago.