Saturday, March 10, will be your chance to meet the NWSL’s newest team — the Utah Royals FC. After an intense leg of preseason training and international tournaments, the Utah Royals FC will be returning home to meet the fans at Carnival Real, prior to Real Salt Lake’s home opener.
The Carnival gates open at 11:30 am on the east side of the stadium, and will include live music, food, games, autograph signings with the team, and photos. Get to know the members of the club underneath the bright yellow tent, and spend some time with USWNT team members Becky Sauerbrunn, Amy Rodriguez, and Kelley O’Hara.
The meet-and-greet event comes just days after the return of a majority of the international players. After a stellar performance in the SheBelieves tournament, Kelley O’Hara will be calling Rio Tinto stadium home. Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson, and Maegan Kelly from Canada; and Gunnhildur Jonsdottir for Iceland, will also be at the event, returning from the competitive Algarve cup in Portugal. Finally, Katie Bowen from the New Zealand side, and Scotland WNT captain, Rachel Corsie, will be at Carnival Real after playing against each other in international friendlies.
Katrina Gorry (Australia), and Elise Thorsnes (Norway) will be the only players missing the event due to FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and other national team duties.
Recap of Utah Royals FC’s Recent International Success
For many of the international team members, tomorrow will mark the first day with the Utah Royals FC.
Kelley O’Hara completed a successful tour with the USWNT, starting in the 1-0 win against Germany on Thursday, March 1, and in the 1-1 draw against France on Sunday, March 4. Unfortunately, O’Hara did not participate in the 1-0 championship victory over England on Wednesday, March 7, due to injury precautions.
The Algarve Cup — one of the most prestigious and longest-running international tournaments in women’s soccer — kicked off last week in Algarve, Portugal, showcasing some of the top players in the world. Included in the spotlight were members of the Utah Royals FC: Elise Thorsnes of Norway; Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson, and Meagan Kelly of Canada; Gunnhildur Jonsdottir of Iceland; and Katrina Gorry with the Matildas of Australia.
Gunnhildur “Gunny” Jonsdottir
In her first stage match against Sweden, Gunny notched her 50th cap for the Icelandic National side. The Garðabær native celebrated her accomplishment on Instagram, captioning: “After three ACL surgeries, this was just a dream.” She also made an appearance in the next two matches of group play, making the starting eleven against the Netherlands, and helping her team score a late goal in the second-half against Japan. After leaving Group C play in third place, Iceland won the 9th place spot in a heated penalty kick shoot-out against Denmark after tying 1-1 in overtime.
Thorsnes opened the tournament with two goals in the opening group stage match against Australia, ranking her in the top ten for tournament goal-scorers (2). In her third group stage match against Portugal, Thorsnes found her way to the starting line-ups for the match, playing all 90 minutes. Norway finished the group play in third place for Group A. Norway was set to take on South Korea for the seventh place spot last Wednesday, March 7, but the game was suspended due to rainy weather. Algarve awarded both teams the seventh place.
With a successful distribution and attack, Katrina Gorry dominated the midfield throughout the tournament, helping her team build for their first goal of the tournament in their opening group stage match against Norway. In her second group stage match against Portugal, Gorry made the starting eleven for the Matildas, playing all 90 minutes of the match. Australia continued its undefeated streak in the third group stage game, beating China 2-0, and advancing as the first place team in Group A. With Katrina Gorry leading the midfield, the Matildas led in possession (54%), shots (19), and shots on target (7). Gorry ended the match with 67 minutes of play at Estadio Municipal in Albufeira, Portugal. Australia ended the tournament in fourth place.
Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott, & Maegan Kelly
The Canadian trio made waves during the Algarve cup, helping the Canada advance as the second place team in Group B. Desiree Scott made the starting line-up in matches against Sweden and South Korea during stage play. Diana Matheson, who is just returning from an ACL injury, also made an appearance against Sweden, holding steady pressure in the center of the pitch. URFC forward Maegan Kelly also made an appearance in group stage, this time for the 3-0 win against South Korea, registering her 50th cap for the Canadian side.
Canada ended on a high note, beating 2015 World Cup runner-up, Japan, 2-0, for 5th place. Both Scott and Matheson started the final match.
Rachel Corsie (Scotland) & Katie Bowen (New Zealand)
The Algarve Cup isn't the only tournament boasting Utah Royals FC stars — both New Zealand WNT defender Katie Bowen, and URFC invitee Rachel Corsie appeared in international friendlies against each other. Last Saturday, the Scotland WNT, captained by Corsie, beat New Zealand 2-0. On the following Tuesday, Scotland reciprocated Saturday’s score, winning 2-0, with goals from Jane Ross and Fiona Brown. Both Corsie and Bowen made appearances.