SANDY, UTAH (April 28, 2018) – Amy Rodriguez scored the first Utah Royals FC goal at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night.
The veteran forward scored the opening goal for the Utah Royals in the 53rd minute. The goal came after a two-year-long NWSL absence.
Rodriguez said that she loved the “chance to get out there and play” against Portland. The match was her first start of the season.
Rodriguez scores first Royals goal at the Rio T against Thorns FC
“It was a through ball in from Kelly (O’Hara) and it bounced off my defender, I got a lucky touch on it and had a one-on-one with the keeper,” Rodriguez said about her goal. “I remember staying calm in the moment and taking my time and being patient, waiting for the right shot to come out.”
After the match, Utah Royals Head Coach Laura Harvey said that Rodriguez makes the forward position “really honest.”
“She threatens them in behind and she makes them constantly have to think,” Harvey explained. “I just felt like she had a goal in her tonight and she was due to come off at halftime, but we stuck around for another 10 minutes and thankfully it worked.”
Utah did not win the match, however. In the 67th minute, midfielder Tobin Heath blasted a shot from distance past Royals goalkeeper Abby Smith. The goal was assisted by Christine Sinclair.
Royals FC defender Becky Sauerbrunn explained Heath’s goal:
“I was the one who played it to Desiree [Scott] and I think we were trying to play out the back a little bit more, we don’t want to be too direct of a team,” Sauerbrunn said. “And she just had three people on her, and it was just we were stretched at the back, so Tobin kind of found some good space, and you know Tobin in the ’18, she’s going to finish that.”
A team's first home goal is always special. @BrianDunseth for RSL. @justen_glad for the @RealMonarchs. And now @AmyRodriguez8 for the @UtahRoyalsFC. Welcome to the club A-Rod! #RSLfamily pic.twitter.com/MdDuVTnHJD
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) April 29, 2018
- Despite the draw, Utah looks better: Utah Royals certainly could use three points, but they looked better than a month ago. Sauerbrunn has formed a good connection with her defense. Meanwhile, Smith is doing better in goal and with communication. This team can only go up from here.
- No Adrianna Franch for a month: Britt Eckerstorm made her debut for the Thorns last weekend — and she’ll continue in goal for the next month. Right now, goalkeeper Adrianna Franch is rehabbing a right meniscus tear. Eckerstorm needs to keep good communication with her backline or else Portland will fall in the standings.
- The Rio Tinto’s attendance: While their first match had a much larger crowd, Saturday’s numbers at the RioT weren’t bad. Fans showed up in numbers — 8,446 to be exact — and kept the energy going.
— NWSL (@NWSL) April 29, 2018