Utah’s Taylor Lytle discusses Rio Tinto Stadium, how the Royals can make a push down the stretch, and her unique college degree.
It’s easy to be great and shine brightly when things are going well. But, it shows even more character to excel when the deck is stacked against you. Utah Royals midfielder Taylor Lytle is working her way back from a season-ending injury, not the first of her career. “Honestly, injuries are never fun, but they’re part of the sport. I’ve been injured before and I feel like it’s a time to prove yourself and come back better than before you were injured,” said a motivated Lytle.
A professional since 2012 and approaching 100 career NWSL appearances, she is definitely an established veteran in the league. When it comes to the advice she gives rookies, it’s pretty straight forward. “I’ve always told the rookies as they come in that they have to be ready to compete every day,” Taylor shared. “Every game is a battle, basically. There are no easy matches in our league. I try to tell them that when they come in for preseason, be ready to fight and battle for positions.”
Utah is currently in a battle of its own on the NWSL table. They sit 5th and one point away from a crucial top-four spot. While she won’t be able to help her teammates on the pitch, Taylor thinks they will be fine down the stretch. “I think that when everyone gets back, we will start clicking again. Picking up where we left off playing with each other and hopefully put a few more goals into the back of the net,” she explained.
The Royals are back in action at home tomorrow night against Portland Thorns FC. Lytle is a big fan of the club’s home stadium and thinks it is a great selling point for a new fan of the league. “We play at a beautiful stadium, so I feel like that’s the first thing I would tell someone. You can see the mountains and all that,” Lytle said. “Once you’re inside the stadium, you get to watch these world-class players play for 90+ minutes. I feel like once we get them in the stadium, then we can sell ourselves more because our games are always exciting and fun to watch.”
While she plays her professional soccer in Utah after years of playing for Sky Blue FC, she was born and raised a state away in New Mexico. Her home state now boasts a professional soccer team of its own, New Mexico United of the USL Championship. “It’s great and from what I’ve seen, from just following them, the state has really gotten into it,” Lytle said. “It’s amazing to see because when I was growing up, soccer was not a big sport there. For me to see it grow over the past 20-something years, it’s really exciting. And, I think it’s good for New Mexico!”
After that New Mexico upbringing, Lytle was a star at Texas Tech with a very interesting degree: animal science. Growing up, she said her favorite animal was the chimpanzee, which is also her spirit animal off the pitch due to her goofiness. But, what does Taylor think is her animal likeness on the soccer pitch? “I feel like if I asked Kelley (O’Hara), she would say a little ram because they’re feisty and small,” she answers.