Utah Royals FC had an impressive showing for their home debut, drawing over 19,000 fans to Saturday’s home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium.
This year marks the debut of NWSL action at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Royals are backed by owner Dell Loy Hansen, whose organization includes MLS’s Real Salt Lake and USL’s Real Monarchs.
It was believed that Utah’s addition to the NWSL could provide the league with an attendance boost in 2018, but the debut of the Royals perhaps exceeded expectations. Saturday’s match against the Chicago Red Stars drew a reported sellout crowd of 19,203 fans, with those attendance creating a lively atmosphere during the match. More from The Salt Lake Tribune:
“Kudos to Utah for showing up and supporting us,” Royals captain Becky Sauerbrunn said after the 1-0 loss to Chicago. “I think it was something special today. I feel like I was part of something special. It was disappointing that we didn’t get the win to add to the wonderful day, but to play in front of a crowd like that, this is why we play soccer. It was wonderful.”
As the announcer called out the starting lineup, he began saying first and last names — traditionally the fans fill in the last names at soccer matches. But the fans didn’t need his help. They chimed along, drowning him out halfway through.
“The crowd was amazing,” Royals coach Laura Harvey said. “Unbelievable. For us to come out to this size of a crowd is great.”
The Royals fans kept up their enthusiasm throughout the game, cheering, booing and clapping their yellow thunder sticks together.
This game positions the Royals to be among the top NWSL attendance storylines to watch this season, as it will be interesting to see whether the club can maintain a standing among the top teams in league. The club’s next home game is scheduled for April 28, when Portland Thorns FC comes to town.
Image courtesy Utah Royals FC.