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Match Preview: Angel City at Utah Royals | 5.3.24


Friday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m., Angel City is on the road against the Utah Royals. The match will stream on NWSL+, with an English-language radio broadcast on iHeart.


Last week, Angel City lost 3–1 at home to the top-ranked Kansas City Current. A strike by forward Claire Emslie put ACFC up 1–0 in the first half, a lead the team would hold until Current midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo put one away in the 54th minute. Forward Claire Lavogez put the nail in the coffin with a brace in the final minutes of the game.

Utah’s last game was a 0–0 draw at home against the Houston Dash, the Royals’ first draw of the season.

Utah are currently in 13th place in the standings with a 1–4–1 (W–L–D) record. Angel City are in ninth with a 2–3–1 record.

This will be ACFC’s first-ever meeting with the Utah Royals, who joined the league as an expansion team this season.

Scouting Report

The Royals are technically the second NWSL club to call the Salt Lake City area home; an earlier team called Utah Royals FC which, like the current club, shared ownership with MLS side Real Salt Lake (RSL), played in Sandy from 2018–2020. A 2020 controversy over ownership forced a sale of RSL, while the Royals ceased operations and transferred their roster and trade assets to what is now the Kansas City Current. The NWSL approved RSL’s new owners’ expansion bid in 2023.

The current iteration of the Royals is coached by USWNT legend and Royals 1.0 star Amy Rodriguez. The job is Rodriguez’s first as a head coach; she previously spent one season as an assistant at the University of Southern California, her alma mater. She was able to pursue a coaching career shortly after her 2021 retirement as a player thanks in part to a free USSF “B” License course that was offered to 24 NWSL players in 2021, a collaboration between NWSL, the NWSLPA, and USSF.

If the Royals look to still be finding their feet as a new expansion side, keep in mind that their single win so far this season was a 2–1 victory at home against the second-place North Carolina Courage—whose only other loss to date was against Angel City. That game saw defender Kate Del Fava put the Royals up 1–0 in the 15th minute. A 26th-minute equalizer by the Courage was soon answered by forward Ally Sentnor, and the home team maintained the lead over a dramatic second half.

The bottom line: no team in the NWSL should ever be underestimated, especially when playing them on the road.