Tuesday marked the second day of preseason training indoors at the Utah Royals FC at the Zions Bank Real Academy Training Center — and things are quickly picking up speed. In an effort to expedite the team’s collective adjustment to a completely new city, state, living situation, training environment as well as with each other, the group engaged in some teamwork-oriented high-pressure and communication drills.
“This is our moment to start the club off on the right foot,” said heralded USWNT striker Amy Rodriguez. “And personally, I get to start my comeback and my recovery from ACL surgery in such a great facility under the best staff, and a top-of-the-line treatment center. I’m very fortunate that this is going to be my place for a comeback.”
The majority of the practice then consisted of possession games and finding the open player.
“We want to work on our defensive shape, pressure, and how we organize ourselves,” said 2015 NWSL Champion DF Becca Moros. “From there comes a certain predictability and understanding of each other—which then allows you to launch into the creative side of the offense.”
Though today marks only the second day of the training for the preseason, the women are already playing at the speed and awareness of a veteran team, which you might expect with 15+ players having played together in Kansas City.
“Being with some of the old teammates from last year is a nice feeling,” continued Moros. “It’s comforting, and we know each other so it’s a bit easier to start out. But having new faces means there are new people to learn from…So overall there is the excitement of being in a new place, but also the comfort of having teammates and friends here.”
While a majority of the players have been on teams with a similar playing style to that of Head Coach Laura Harvey, the team’s work on perfecting their chemistry on the pitch is a constant.
“With a new coach and base group of familiar players, there is always a balance,” said GK Abby Smith, who joined Utah via the Boston dispersal draft. “Incorporating everybody into her style of play and learning what Laura wants us to do, and playing to the strengths and weaknesses of everybody on the team…when it comes to playing together as a group, it’s just trying to mesh that together.”
DF Rachel Corsie was also added to the preseason training roster this morning as a discovery player after being released by Seattle Reign FC. Corsie will be practicing as a trialistthrough Friday, where she will then fly to Europe to represent the Scotland Women's National team, who will be playing in a pair of friendlies against New Zealand (featuring Royals FC MF Katie Bowen) on March 3 and 6, prior to European FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in May.
After a chaotic week of excitement and two tough training days, the women are off Wednesday before returning to the Zions Bank Real Academy Training Center on Thursday and Friday to conclude the week’s camp.