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Royals open to rave reviews before massive crowd at the RioT

The Utah Royals regroup after conceding during Saturday's well-attended home opener (photo copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

SANDY, UT — NWSL is getting good at these opening acts. The latest one played out Saturday in the Wasatch Valley where Rio Tinto Stadium, known affectionately as The RioT, welcomed its newest tenant, Utah Royals FC. Five months ago, Dell Loy Hansen purchased a team from NWSL and promised to treat his new female side in an identical manner as his existing men’s team Real Salt Lake. In Saturday’s opener, 19,203 fans jammed themselves into the RioT to help make Hansen’s vision closer to a reality.

As the assembled media waited for players to emerge from the locker room, a staffer remarked that the brand new locker room Hansen had put in for the Royals was so nice that the players were never in a hurry to leave it.

“Obviously we’ve got the locker room here,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “They (Real Salt Lake)’ve got Herriman (a reference to the indoor practice fields at the club’s shared training facility), but we’ve been able to use Herriman any time the weather’s not been great.”

The signs of equality were felt for miles before reaching Rio Tinto.


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