SANDY, UTAH (June 30, 2018) — Last week, it was all about Christen Press.
This week, attention still swirled around Press, but her fellow new Utah Royals FC player earned her own debut. Samantha Johnson started and featured for a full 90-minute shift under Laura Harvey.
Samantha Johnson Makes Utah Royals Debut in 3-1 Win Over Sky Blue FC
“You just have to understand personalities and understand their personal strengths, but over time it’ll get better and tonight was a great start to that,” Johnson said. “The individual quality of the players is very high. We have really high standards for ourselves individually; we try to be clean on the ball and make the least amount of technical errors.”
Press made her debut on Wednesday as a substitute against the Seattle Reign. However, another first was checked off for the veteran striker.
Press scored her first goal in a Royals jersey in the seventh minute. According to the Royals, Press’ goal was also the first left-footed goal scored in Royals history.
Meanwhile, her teammate Katie Stengel had a two-goal game. Stengel scored four minutes apart from each other in the first half. After scoring, Stengel ran over to a throne set up for Royals and Real Salt Lake matches.
“I saw that throne the first RSL game that I went to and said that if I ever score I was going to go sit on that throne,” Stengel explained. “So, I was hoping for someone to go with me so I wouldn’t look like a loser, but it was still a lot of fun I really love having that throne chair there.”
Sky Blue FC could never recover. Despite a last-ditch goal from Carli Lloyd in the 62nd minute, Sky Blue never caught up to Utah.
“We were being a little too defensive, and it felt like we were chasing the game after giving up the early goal,” Reddy said. “However, we stepped up as an 11 in the second half. We were playing at a much higher level, and definitely with a greater effort as well.”
— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) July 1, 2018
The Transition for Press and Johnson
Royals head coach Laura Harvey isn’t afraid to suit players up fast.
Harvey put Press in immediately when she became available. While Johnson had to wait a bit longer, it wasn’t by much. By Saturday, she had completed a full 90 minutes.
However, Harvey isn’t ignoring the talent she has on her roster already. Instead, Harvey is mixing up her rotations and confusing other teams.
Harvey said that the adjustment period has gone well for both players. She touched specifically on how Utah and Chicago are different defensively for Johnson.
“I think the way we defend is a little bit different from Chicago so we’ve got to help Sam in that respect,” Harvey said. “It won’t take a lot, we just haven’t had many training session, just preparation for the game sessions, so that will help.”
“Obviously getting on the field and getting minutes, time, being around the players is the way you fit in seamlessly and I think so far so good.”
It’s safe to say that Johnson is a fan of the move. Johnson expressed elation about featuring alongside Becky Sauerbrunn.
“She’s so smart with her positioning, communication and always giving me tips along the way,” Johnson said.
— Utah Royals FC (@UtahRoyalsFC) July 2, 2018