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Quote Sheet: Utah Royals FC 1-1 Portland Thorns FC

Utah Royals FC 1-1 OL Reign
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Saturday, October 3, 2020

Head Coach Amy LePeilbet

On the spirit of tonight:
“I think one piece of that was that it was the last home game, so you want to defend your home field. I think it was extra special because it was the last one. That adds a little encouragement to the effort that we put out there. Honestly, this group has been working hard every single day. They’re committed and this was just another opportunity to get after it tonight, and they put it all out there on the field.”
On the full 90 minutes:
“Overall, I thought the team did really well. They executed what we had prepared this week. We took some things from what hurt us previously when we played Portland. Going into this we were much more prepared, and we felt ready since we played them before. I thought we were strong. Defensively, we were nice and compact, it was difficult for Portland to break us down. In possession I thought the group did really well. We were finding the wide space, and we were aggressive in getting in behind the back line. When that didn’t present itself, we did well to be composed and change the point of attack and get behind them that way as well.”
On Nikki Washington:
“When I had the opportunity to bring someone in, there was nobody better that I could think of. I’ve always wanted to coach with Nikki. She’s a fantastic coach, she’s intelligent and has a great attacking mind. I jumped at the opportunity to go after her. Luckily she was between things, so we were able to make it happen. It was enjoyable having her next to me. She’s been here all week, and she definitely helped us be prepared for tonight.”
On preparing for the last game:
“We’re going to take the time to analyze this game. That’s what we’ve done the last two weeks. We analyze it, break it down, and really figure out what we need to do to be better going into the next game. I don’t think I have anything specific just yet, only because when you watch the game sometimes you see things very different than what you thought you saw them watching from the sideline. We’re going to start breaking it down, recognizing what we need to add going into the Seattle game that will help us be successful.”

Forward Amy Rodriguez

On the way you played:
“I think the message is always that we’re going to go out there and play with heart. I think tonight, last game of 2020 at home, we really wanted to show our heart on the field and put everything we had out there. Credit to the team, I think everyone showed up and played strong tonight. We really aren’t hanging our heads because we put it all out there on the field.”
On Nikki Washington:
“I love the soccer world and how old friends can come and go. We bump into each other in the least expected times. For me personally, it’s great to see players I’ve formally played against and within Amy LePeilbet and Nikki Washington, two people I respect greatly. I’m really excited to have them on board with us and I think we’re going to make a good squad with adding them on to us.”
On the motivation:
“When Amy stepped into the head coaching role, she told us she wanted us to get better each and every half that we played. I do feel like we are on that trend, and I feel like each game, we’re getting better and better. It’s just been a very tough year, on this squad and in this league. Coming off a really fun and exciting challenge cup, we put everything out there and we came back to training and we have this fall series. We all wanted to get better and develop our game more and get some extra games in with this squad. I’m really proud of the group for putting in the effort that they have. We are excited to keep growing and to build into 2021. That’s where the mindset is for me personally, I just want to keep getting better and keep supporting my team.”
On what felt good tonight:
“I think a lot of tonight can be attributed to attitude. We’ve got a fantastic group of players that’s willing to work hard, do that pressure and pass that ball quickly. It’s stuff that we’ve been working and improving weekly on. I’m excited to see where this team is going.”
On tonight vs the last time you played Portland:
“A little bit of a different scenario. We didn’t have to travel. We got to play a home game in front of our fans, a night game at that where the motivation is high, and the excitement is high. For me, personally, I wanted to go out there and make my mark, especially after losing our previous game against the Thorns. We definitely had a bit of a chip on our shoulder, and wanted to prove what we could do. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but we did push. We played hard, and we did play really hard.”
On the ‘Appreciate Excellence’ shirts:
“The team as a whole came together and really wanted to make a statement on the ability, the talent, and the strength that this team has. As we ourselves are out here working hard, we appreciate each other, the excellence and talent that we know we have. We hope others see the same. A moment where I’m very proud of this team, where we come together and we stand for what’s right and what’s fair. This team definitely has those things, and I’m really proud to be a part of it.”

Goalkeeper Abby Smith

On managing working with so many different defenders:
“It’s the benefit of having training. We try a lot of different things in training, and this is the time to give everyone opportunities, so we’re really thriving with trying different things. It takes a lot of communication, so we’re being patient with each other and playing for each other and going from there.” 
On the way the team defended:
“Everybody had a lot of heart. We all played for each other and we all are really grinding through these games. There’s been a lot of change throughout the team. Whenever anyone steps onto the field, we know that we’re playing for each other and they’re giving everything they have.”
On Nikki Washington:
“I think it’s great that Nikki’s on staff. I’ve actually known of Nikki for a really long time. We’re from the same area in Dallas. She has a great reputation with players’ families, meaning that she’s a great coach. I was really excited when Amy had said that she was coming on. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to show that we’re making steps to bring a diverse staff in. We’re trying to go in a good direction so that everybody is given an opportunity to have a voice, and we feel empowered.”
On putting down a foundation for next year:
“We are trying to build a foundation where our team fights for each other and whenever we’re on the field, we’re going to grind it out. We’re going to do whatever it takes. Sometimes the results come, and sometimes they don’t. We know that as soon as we step on the field, we’re in game mode. We’re going to take each day, day by day, and we’re going to make ourselves better and our teammates better. I think we have a good group with us right now and we’re just trying to build off this year. We’re doing what we can, and we’re really just trying to go back to the basics.”