After an intense first three weeks of preseason in Utah, the full 2018 Utah Royals FC squad met face-to face with admirers from all across RSL nation for the first time on Saturday at Carnival Real. The women each took turns signing autographs for fans, playing pick-up soccer and participating in pregame events.
“This was my first time at Rio Tinto Stadium, and the turnout for our meet-and-greet was amazing. I think it’s awesome that so many fans already know about us,” said midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta. “Being in this stadium makes me so excited to see what the atmosphere will be like during our games — like I hear the chanting, and drums — I can’t wait to witness that and be a part of it.”
This weekend also marked the first day for a majority of the squad’s international players who have been away fulfilling national team duties. Including USWNT DF Kelley O’Hara, who flew in Saturday morning to attend the event.
“Carnival Real was such a great event. It was so awesome to see the support from the fans, and it makes me excited to be able to meet more of our soccer community," said O’Hara, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup winner. “Being here was absolutely phenomenal — I can’t wait for April 14."
Not only did the team participate in Carnival Real, but the group also debuted their inaugural primary kit when they were introduced to the home crowd at halftime.
“Getting to meet the Royals FC team was incredible. I have already bought my season tickets and am planning on going to every home game,” said Claire Quick, a local middle schooler and fan. “I look up to a lot of the players, like Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Barny (GK Nicole Barnhart).”
After an exciting weekend for the Utah Royals FC, the crew began their final leg of preseason – and the team’s first-ever road trip Monday in Southern California, where they will practice each day in preparation for Friday’s scrimmage against UCLA at 10a MT.