ORLANDO, FLORIDA (March 24, 2018) — It only took Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir three minutes to score the first goal in Utah Royals history.
The NWSL club made their league debut in Orlando at Orlando City Stadium. In front of a crowd of over 9,000 fans, Jónsdóttir scored the first goal in Royals history — and her first-ever NWSL goal.
Diana Matheson assisted Jónsdóttir’s goal.
However, in the first half, the Orlando Pride tied the match with a penalty kick goal from Marta.
Controversial Becky Sauerbrunn Hand Ball Call Leads Orlando Pride to Draw With Utah Royals
The decision to call a penalty kick came after a controversial call from head referee Danielle Chesky on Becky Sauerbrunn. Chesky claimed that Sauerbrunn committed a handball.
In a statement, Chesky said, “The arms were in an unnatural position and was determined to deliberately handle the ball.”
The statement continued to claim that an assistant referee had a “clear view of the incident” and that there was “no further information to add.”
Chesky pulled out a yellow card on Sauerbrunn for “unsporting behavior, stopping a promising attack [and] deliberate handling on a shot on goal.”
However, Royals head coach Laura Harvey had a different opinion.
“I don’t want to get fined, but it’s hard to come here and not come away with three points when you concede the penalty that we did,” Harvey said. “What I don’t get is how the linesman, watches the replay and still gives it.”
In his post-game press conference, Orlando Pride head coach Tom Sermanni did not comment onhandball ball — or Chesky’s decision.
— NWSL (@NWSL) March 24, 2018
- Was it a hand ball? No: It hit off Becky Sauerbrunn’s face. Nothing more, nothing less; Chesky got it wrong, big time.
- Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir is going to be a hit: Don’t sleep on Jónsdóttir in the NWSL. The forward has been successful abroad and in her first NWSL season the Iceland-native can take the league by storm.
- Start Chioma Ubogagu: In my preview of the Orlando Pride, I specifically noted that Sermanni shouldn’t set aside Ubogagu for Sydney Leroux. However, in the season opener, that’s exactly what happened. Ubogagu entered the match in the 46th minute for an injured Alex Morgan. Now, Pride fans will see Ubogagu and Leroux right next to each other.