Being here with some of our same teammates from last year’s a nice feeling. It’s a little comforting. —Utah Royals defender Becca Moros
HERRIMAN — Although a bunch of things are brand new for the Utah Royals as they prepare for their first season, one important item that they’ve got a head start on is the process of building team chemistry.
Given that 15 of the 27 players on the preseason roster were essentially transferred to the Beehive State from FC Kansas City, a majority of the members of the club already have a base level of familiarity with one another that they can build from as training camp rolls on. What’s more, seven players on the roster were on at least one of the Kansas City rosters that won back-to-back NWSL championships in 2014 and 2015.
“Being here with some of our same teammates from last year’s a nice feeling,” said defender Becca Moros. “It’s a little comforting. We know each other, so it’s a little bit easier to start out. Overall it has the excitement of being like a very new place, but a little bit of the comfort of having teammates and friends already here.”
It’s not as though there is nothing to work through from a chemistry standpoint, however. Chief on that list is players learning what head coach Laura Harvey and her staff want from them, while a bunch of players are slated to miss part or all of camp because of injury or national team duty.
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, striker Amy Rodriguez and midfielder Mandy Laddish are in various stages of injury rehab, with Harvey saying, “For all of them, they’re all in a different position, but the mindset is that there’s no point putting them through preseason getting them worse. The reality is that we need them for the games, and that’s the priority.”
As for national team duty, Kelley O’Hara will be with the United States Women’s National Team at the #SheBelieves Cup in early March, while Canadians Desiree Scott, Diana Matheson and Maegan Kelly will arrive in Utah after the Algarve Cup concludes in Portugal March 7. Gunny Jonsdottir (Iceland) and Elise Thorsnes (Norway) will leave camp for the Algarve Cup on Feb. 26.
Katie Bowen (New Zealand) hasn’t arrived in Utah and will leave again in March after arriving next week to play in matches against Scotland, while Katrina Gorry (Australia) will compete in the Algarve Cup and also in qualifying matches for the 2019 World Cup, and isn’t expected to start playing for the Royals until at least late April.
In Harvey’s eyes, good things can happen on the field from a chemistry standpoint so long as players respect and know what to expect from each other.
“Ultimately we don’t all have to be best friends, but we just need to respect each other when we’re around the field and know what each other’s job is,” she said. “I’m a big believer if you can get that right, then you’ve got a chance to be successful.”