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Adam Fondren, Deseret News

Needing a win, Utah Royals take break to focus on ending 4-match homestand with 3 points

By Sean Walker, KSL.com | Posted - May 17th, 2018 @ 10:32am



SANDY — The Utah Royals' first major homestand at Rio Tinto Stadium hasn’t been bad.

But it also hasn’t been good.

The Royals, the first-year Salt Lake City-based franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League, haven’t lost a game since a run of four-straight matches at Rio Tinto Stadium. In fact, Utah has only lost one match so far — a 1-0 defeat to Chicago in the home opener on April 14.

But the club also has only won one match, with five draws in the first seven of the season.

Looking to change things up a bit, head coach Laura Harvey gave the players a few days off to step away from the game and recharge before Saturday’s home date with the Houston Dash at 1:30 p.m. MDT on Lifetime TV.

After Saturday, the Royals (1-1-5) will play four-straight on the road, at Portland, Sky Blue, North Carolina and Chicago.

“The girls had Saturday-Sunday off, so that was nice to get away and not think about football for a couple of days,” Harvey said. “Now we’ve had two really good sessions, and that means we can get fully prepared for Houston.”

For some players, that meant getting to know their teammates better, staying inside the apartment on a rainy Saturday with the rest of the team that didn’t travel, midfielder Katrina Gorry said.

“We just hung out with a few girls who stayed home,” Gorry said. “A lot did go home and see family, too.”

That includes midfielder Desiree Scott. The Canadian international visited family in her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba — at a time that happened to coincide with the NHL’s Jets hosting the Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference finals.

“It’s a great final. Obviously, I’m rooting for the Jets. But Vegas is a very exciting team, and their fans are ridiculous,” Scott said.

“We are a game each, and then Game 7 will be ours and we’ll head to the Stanley Cup finals. Go Jets.”

Fellow midfielder Gunny Jonsdottir spent the weekend in Seattle. The Icelandic international visited Lake Washington, scouted two upcoming opponents when the Seattle Reign hosted New Jersey’s Sky Blue FC, and saw a few friends.

She even visited Seattle at the same time as two friends — Harvey and center back Rachel Corsie were at the game, though none of the three initially knew it.

“We were kind of a gang,” Jonsdottir said.

Utah wing Kelley O’Hara used the break to recover from another recent knock. The U.S. international outside back left last Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Orlando early clutching her hamstring, but Harvey thinks the pain may be a sign of something greater.

“We’re still evaluating her,” Harvey said, noting O’Hara — who did not practice Tuesday — could be questionable for Saturday’s match. “We’ve been dealing with it since the first game of the season. She missed the (first) Houston game because of it.

“It may potentially be more, but we have to make sure we know why she feels the pain. I don’t think it’s as simple as a tweak in her hamstring.”

If O’Hara can play, she will. But Harvey also said she wants to be smart with the injury.

“She’s tough, and she wants to play through stuff,” Harvey said. “But at some point, bad things happen, and this may be the nick we need to delve deeper and see what is wrong.”

Orlando Pride midfielder Emily van Egmond (5) Utah Royals FC defender Kelley O'Hara (5) try to chase dow the ball as the Utah Royals and the Orlando Pride play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. (Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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