Spring is around the corner, meaning the rest of 2019 is promised to be jam-packed with matches at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. On Thursday, the NWSL announced full-season schedules for each of its clubs, including Utah Royals FC.
The Royals, who finished fifth in their inaugural season at 9-8-7 a year ago, have a Week 1 bye due to the odd number of clubs, meaning they’ll instead make their 2019 debut at home on Saturday, April 20, at Rio Tinto Stadium against the Washington Spirit. Kickoff for the season-opener is scheduled for 7 p.m. The 24-game season is, once again, evenly split with 12 home and away matches. The Royals will face each club three times in 2019.
Four of Utah’s first six matches of 2019 are at Rio Tinto. Several former in-state talents will be in town to face off against the Royals during that stretch including former BYU star Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit), fellow former BYU star Michele Vasconcelos (Chicago Red Stars) and former Alta High product Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash).
Utah faces reigning NWSL champ, the North Carolina Courage, for the first time on Sunday, May 19, on the road. The Royals were the only team in NWSL to beat the league-best Courage a season ago.
It is a FIFA Women’s World Cup year, as well, so all NWSL clubs will be heavily affected as their big-name players who eventually get the call for their respective countries will be on international duty for a large portion of the season. The 2019 World Cup in France runs from June 7 to July 7. The Royals will likely be missing a significant portion of its core. U.S. women’s national team staples Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara and Christen Press will likely be part of the USWNT World Cup squad.
Other potential Royals who could make World Cup rosters include Scottish defender Rachel Corsie as well as Canadians Desiree Scott and Diana Matheson. A key addition this offseason was the signing of 31-year-old Spanish midfielder Veronica Boquete. Utah returns goal-scorers Amy Rodriguez and Katie Stengel, who led the Royals in goals scored a year ago with six. While they could likely be without a star playmaker like Press for an extended period of time due to this summer’s World Cup, the Royals will benefit from having a dynamic talent for most of the season. Last summer, the Royals acquired Press in June.
In their first year in the NWSL, the Royals had the league’s second-highest attendance during the regular season. They averaged 9,466 fans per home game.
UTAH ROYALS 2019 SCHEDULE
Saturday, April 20 vs. Washington Spirit
Saturday, April 27 at Orlando Pride
Friday, May 3 vs. Chicago Red Stars
Saturday, May 11 vs. Houston Dash
Sunday, May 19 at North Carolina Courage
Saturday, May 25 vs. Orlando Pride
Saturday, June 1 at Washington Spirit
Saturday, June 15 vs. Sky Blue FC
Friday, June 21 at Portland Thorns
Friday, June 28 vs. Reign FC
Friday, July 12 at Sky Blue FC
Friday, July 19 vs. Portland Thorns
Saturday, July 27 vs. North Carolina Courage
Saturday, Aug. 3 at Chicago Red Stars
Wednesday, Aug. 7 vs. Sky Blue FC
Sunday, Aug. 11 at Reign FC
Saturday, Aug. 17 at Orlando Pride
Wednesday, Aug. 21 at Washington Spirit
Friday, Sept. 6 vs. Portland Thorns
Friday, Sept. 13 at Houston Dash
Wednesday, Sept. 18 at Reign FC
Saturday, Sept. 21 vs. North Carolina Courage
Saturday, Sept. 28 at Chicago Red Stars
Saturday, Oct. 12 vs Houston Dash