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Utah Royals 262 Day Wait Between NWSL Fixtures Nearly Over

Royals players celebrate after a goal by Utah Royals FC forward Christen Press (23) as the Salt Lake Royals and Sky Blue FC play at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Royals FC are hours away from playing their first 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup as the team takes on Houston Dash at 10:30 a.m. at Zions Bank Stadium on Tuesday, June 30.

The last time the Royals took on an NWSL opponent was on October 12, 2019, when they beat the Dash 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium thanks to goals from Christen Press and Amy Rodriguez. It has been eight months and 18 days since the Royals have taken the pitch.

The upcoming fixture against the Dash also marks the first game in charge for manager Craig Harrington. Harrington joined the Royals after a two-year stint as an assistant coach with the Chicago Red Stars. Prior to that, he managed the Turks and Caicos Islands National Football team.

Christen Press Absence

The Royals will be without their star striker Christen Press for the Challenge Cup following Press’s decision to voluntarily sit out of the tournament.

“It is deeply painful not to be able to play the game I love, and to watch the broader effects of the global pandemic on our league, sports, and our world,” Press said in a club released statement.

“Regrettably, given the uncertainty created by COVID-19, I must elect not to participate in this tournament. I know how fortunate I am to be able to make this choice. I have enormous respect and gratitude for those who do not have the luxury to choose whether to report to work, including our selfless and heroic first responders. I look forward to supporting my teammates during the tournament in Utah,” Press added.

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Tom Hackett is a Utah and Real Salt Lake Insider for and host of the It’s Utah’s World Podcast (Utah Football themed) and The Lion’s Den Podcast (Real Salt Lake themed). Follow him on Twitter: @TomCantHackett.

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