Quote Sheet: Royals FC 1-0 Spirit

Utah Royals FC 1-0 Washington Spirit
Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, UT
April 20, 2019

Utah Royals FC
Head Coach Laura Harvey

On the home opener:
“Yeah, I think the biggest positive is the result. I think that the first game in this league is always difficult because the intensity is so different than preseason. Obviously, scoring early helps. And thankfully, having a win and feeling like we played great is arguably the best feeling because then you can go away, you can look at it, you can really be critical of yourself and try and make sure you adapt to make them better for the next game. I think sometimes when you win and you feel that you played well then you can create, you can cover up some cracks a little bit. So I feel like that's the emotion right now really happy with three points. We've said all preseason, we wanted to start off results-wise better than we did last year, and this was this was a good opportunity to do that: we did it. A clean sheet is always nice, not conceding goals is a big thing for us. I wish we could have made it easier on ourselves both defensively and with the ball, but it will give us loads of things to talk about and learn from in preparation for next week.”

On things to work on:
“We would want to turn on our defending and press and I didn't think we did great. I think we did okay at it, obviously we scored off it, which was a positive. And those times are we did it okay, but I didn't think we did it brilliantly. And, that's things we can work on. I think then just that quality on the ball was off a little bit, but first game of the season you always expect little things like that. I just think it's a positive result. But I think there are a couple of things that we just need to be a little bit better.”

On the goal:
“I just remember Christen nicking it off the pass, which was something we spoke about and wanted to try and do. Then when she has space in front of her, she's always a threat. I don't really remember how it got to Lo’eau, but then a decent finish by Lo’eau.”

On struggles from last year to this year:
“Okay, I think that we could have created more. We were definitely more of a threat, than we have been previously but still probably not converting that into shots and chances. I think just getting in there and creating is going to be the hardest thing for any team in this league. Sometimes I think we're a little bit safe with our possession. We’ve just got to keep driving at home that we want to try and be a little bit risky at times and try and force them back and get a chance from that. And I thought we did a little bit better than we did at times last year. I definitely think that we need to keep working on that for sure.”

On the first 15 minutes:
“I think that we said pregame, we said all week, that when there's one team that's had a game or one team that hasn't, it would be easy to let them control the game, because they had a game under their belt, and we didn't want that to happen. We wanted to take control of the game. We wanted to dictate the tempo, we wanted to put them under pressure, wanted to let them know that we wanted to make sure we got this result taken care of and I feel like we really did that in the first 15 minutes. I then think that they started to sell into the game a little bit and we allow them to do that. I think then we tweaked our shape a little bit and that helped us to be much more solid. I feel like in the second half again, we let them play a little bit and then I felt when Kelley came on and Stengel came on and Mandy came on, I thought we saw the game out pretty well. They were only really a threat off their set pieces, long throws and counter attacks. And again, that's something that we need to try and prevent.”

On Lo’eau’s role going forward:
“The good thing with Lo’eau, she can play so many different positions. Last year, she filled different spaces on the field when we needed it. I do feel like she's arguably better a little bit deeper, to dictate play a little bit and get on the ball a little bit more but we asked to play a specific role today. Obviously with Desi going to the World Cup, I think Lo’eau is a really good replacement for Desi at times, so that's an option for us. I thought Desi was exceptional, just on a side note. I think that Lo’eau can create and she can score. She definitely thrives on that in training and often we don't do with the opportunity to get up there and it was nice today that we did.”

On Vero’s chemistry with the team:
“I think that the biggest thing that we didn't say too much pregame, but we're saying it after the game because we knew it is and the players are saying and the staff are saying, it is there's so many little things like that. That's a really good example. You really test yourself in the opening game. So we can go back and look at that and go ‘Was it her pass, or was it the run?’ I think that what Vero brings to this team is when she's got the ball, you never ever think she's going to give it away. So it just adds confidence to the team. She completed passes that other people don't see. And I think there was a couple tonight where she played Christen in behind and played Michelle out wide; little things like that other people don't have the chance to see. The more we can get her on the ball better, I felt that we didn't get her on the ball as much as we would like to tonight. We've got to try and work away where we can do that, because she's definitely someone that can unlock defenses. The more we keep working on it, and the more we keep playing together, the more that will come.”

On Christen’s integration to the team:
“Any of the new players who have a preseason, it makes it way easier. So her, Sam Johnson, Vero, the rookies. I think just being around each other for as long as we have in preseason enables relationships to build and Christen has played with a lot of these players before. What Christen does really well is she understands the game, and she sees the game. She sees what she feels it needs. And I think you saw that in the goal. She steals it and then she knows from there that she's going to have an opportunity to go forward. That’s something that is in her that she wants to be better at, she wants to keep developing that. I thought that she was a real threat tonight, I think that anytime she gets 1v1 and gets at people they get really nervous. I think now we've got to work out how we integrate other people with her when she's going because she so quickly often she leaves everyone behind. So I think that her defensive performances were really good.”

On Maemone’s performance:
“It's interesting, she couldn't train yesterday because she had a 101 fever. We knew that Kelley couldn't start. We knew Michelle was going to start so for rookie to step in, in this environment, I don't think she even knew what day it was when she came off. She had just given absolutely everything to the team. And that's who she is, that's just the mentality and character she is. So she did really well for a first game. I think that is difficult. This league’s difficult, it's so much better than college like they don’t compare. For a rookie to step in and give the performance that she did, I think just to be really proud, especially with the fact that she was so sick as well.”

On crowd attendance affecting the team’s performance:
“It's just phenomenal. Everyone would talk about last year's home opener and it was a fantastic event. It was amazing. The thing that always just ate in my soul was that we didn't win the game. Tonight we put that right and I think from the player's perspective, from everyone who works at this club and gives everything every day to see 18,000 people doing the clap at the end is something that’s, why you'd wake up at 5am to go and do your job and get in at midnight. I think that for not just the players not just the coaching staff, but absolutely everybody that works at this club. I think that's just a special moment that we will remember for a long time.”

Midfielder Vero Boquete

How it feels to get the first win being a new member on the team:
“Well it feels great because you hope to win but we are not 100% happy because after a long preseason and the hard work that we did during these past weeks we think that we could do better, that we should play better, that the results should be bigger for us. So we are not happy but on the other side we got the three points, that actually is the most important so now we will look forward to the next game to improve and to get better.”

How having 18,000 fans at the game changes things:
“When you step out in a stadium like this and you see all the fans, you just feel a little more professional because they are the reason that we are there. Of course we have the passion for this sport but when you go outside and you see all these people that come to see us to watch our games, it’s just a special feeling. We just hope that they come back because we know that it was not perfect, but at least we tried. We got the three points and now we promise we will improve. We are going to get better and the next game here it will be a better show. I just hope that the fans and enjoy our games.”

Thoughts on the second half vs. the first half:
“I think my first half was not good at all. I couldn’t find a way to get in touch with the ball and if I got the ball it was too low so it was not efficient or productive for us. In the second half we had a little more space, we won some balls in situations that opened more space for me. So I had a few balls that, in the first half, were really hard. But still in this preseason we played a few games and the feeling and the connections were different. I think Washington was a good game in the defensive way they didn’t create many chances which made it really hard for us and now we have to watch the game again and try to find solutions for that.”

What it’s like to play with a player like Christen:
“Well it’s just great. For me, it's the second time that I’ve played with Christen. I played with her in Sweden for a season and a half and it was fantastic. I think we understand each other really well on the field and to have a player with her speed and her one-against-one, breaking lines, breaking the defense is great. Today she got an assist and it was great for us and great for the team. Now we hope in the next games we will be able to assist her so she can score too.”

Midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta

On scoring her first goal this season:
“It's huge —today, especially with the home opener, I mean, we've been working so long this preseason. Just to get that goal is huge, not individually, but for our team as well. Now we don't just focus on like Press and A-Rod to get all those goals. We all are very versatile on entirely on the field. So I mean, it's great for me, especially being this team and not getting a goal at all last year, it's definitely going to help me boost a little my confidence, take more shots. But I think it's just great to help the team that way.”

On winning despite not playing great:
“I love this team, because we keep each other so accountable. We want to always do better whether we think it's good or not. We want to do better. And I think today was the first day that we've had a starting 11 play a full 90 together. We've had a very long preseason, but we had people go to national team, some injuries, people in and out. So I think today was our first real test. And now we need to move forward, like the win, put it behind us. We need to look forward to next week what we can improve on and I think Laura is watching film right now. So we'll get that later tonight.”

On playing with Christen Press:
“Yeah, I mean, Press is a very versatile player. And you always have to be on your toes, because you don't know when she's going to cut or when she's going to make a run, and I think that's what makes her so dangerous. Because as a teammate when you don't know and you always have to be on your toes that makes the defender even more worrisome. So I think she's very dangerous in that aspect. And the more we play together and get our chemistry, I think it's going to be even more dangerous.”

On getting more playing time:
I think I've always been the kind of player that has to persevere through everything. I've always been the hard worker. I think last year actually I started a few in the beginning like I did the home opener. I did a couple after that and I had a huge setback. But then I was just like all right, well, let's put that behind me and keep fighting, keep fighting. And I think when I played in the offseason and Australia, I talked to Laura, she was like, this is what I want you to work on, came into preseason doing that and just pushed myself even more. So like I said, I'm a very, it's not like I'm a crazy person that's going to do all these moves and do that. I'm just a hard worker and I kind of want other people to look better. And I was just lucky enough to get a goal and today doesn't happen very often. So I'll take it.”