This is it. The 2018 Orlando Pride season is finally here and for the first time, the team is opening up their campaign at home. The Pride’s opponent? NWSL newcomers, Utah Royals FC. Here’s what you need to know about the new side facing our Pride on Saturday:
Utah Royals FC and FC Kansas City Connection
If you haven’t heard, FC Kansas City folded in the offseason while Utah Royals FC took their place in the league. You will see familiar faces up and down the Royals roster, however, because the FC Kansas City roster was absorbed. You'll definitely recognize core pieces like keeper Nicole Barnhart and defender Becky Sauerbrunn.
Looking at Utah Royals, there are a few new faces on the field but first, we’re looking at the bench. Utah brought in former Seattle Head Coach and two-time NWSL Coach of the Year, Laura Harvey, to be the tactical brain of the operation.
Turning our attention to the field, the first name that stands out is Kelly O’Hara. Utah acquired O’Hara during the offseason through a trade with Sky Blue FC. Another notable name to join O’Hara in Utah is former Boston Breakers keeper Abby Smith.
Pride fans will know the big departure from Utah in the offseason. Sydney Leroux swapped life in Utah for life in Orlando. We’re big fans of that. Other key losses include Christina Gibbons and Shea Groom who were shipped off in the O'Hara trade.
Technically, the head-to-head record with Utah Royals stands at 0-0-0 heading into Saturday. But with Utah’s connection and similarities in the roster to FC Kansas City we’re taking our previous matches with the former NWSL side into account. In five all-time meetings with KC, the Pride is 2-2-1 and unbeaten in their last three against. In the last two meetings, the Pride has outscored KC 6-2.