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Playing conditions not a factor in Utah Royals’ loss to Seattle

SANDY, Utah — Here are three things we learned from the Utah Royals’ 1-0 loss to the Seattle Reign.

1. Smith knows how to keep up with her teammates

Despite being out for nearly a month, Abby Smith showed no signs slowing down. Smith last played on July 14 against the Orlando Pride — a game during which she was subbed out because of an injury. But on Saturday afternoon in Rio Tinto Stadium, she showed the nearly month-long recovery helped her do just that, recover, and for the most part she did a nice job of defending the goal. In the first 17 minutes of action, she registered two saves and made plenty of gutsy moves that brought her outside of the box.

Though Smith allowed a goal early in the second half, she had a solid showing and finished with five saves.

2. Seattle fares well in any conditions

Even with the poor playing conditions — the temperature sat at about 92 degrees for the entire 90 minutes and there was poor air quality — Seattle still managed to get the win on the road.  Jessica Fishlock’s header in the 48th minute sealed a road victory for the Reign, and though the poor playing conditions could have favored the Royals, Seattle made use of the hydration breaks to regroup and refocus.

Christen Press thinks in the end Seattle had the upper hand since the Reign didn’t have a midweek game.

“They’re playing in the same heat we’re playing in, and to be fair we should be a little more used to playing in this altitude,” Press said. “I don’t know how much the air quality affected it, I’ll see if I’m coughing all night, but both teams are dealing with the same thing and coming off a Wednesday game makes it tougher for us.”

3. Royals are still fighting for a playoff berth

While not getting any points at home is certainly disappointing, especially when taking into consideration the Royals have been in and out of the playoff race, coach Laura Harvey thinks her team is still trending upward and a playoff berth is still attainable. The Royals are currently in sixth place in the standings, with the top four advancing to the playoffs at the end of the regular season.

“We got to keep grinding away,” Harvey said. “Each game is really different. Sky Blue and Washington away — big fields, humidity, all that stuff. It’s going to be difficult, but we got to take care of business ultimately. I felt like today was a day where we looked tired and we looked off a little bit. We didn’t have that cutting edge.”

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