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Utah Royals FC vs. Houston Dash: Tactical Preview

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What kind of tactics will we see from URFC in their second game in existence?

Utah Royals FC vs Orlando Pride on March 24, 2018
Carlos Romero - The Mane Land

Last week, we saw Utah Royals FC take the field for the first time in history, and it didn’t take long for history to be made as Gunnhildur Jónsdóttir scored the first goal in URFC history in the third minute of the game. They played well and came away with a point on the road, which is never something to be upset about. But with many fans feeling like the Royals were hard done by and should have earned all three points, a quick turnaround to a new game and new opportunities is something for us all to look forward to. With that being said, let’s take a look at a few tactical talking points for the Utah Royals FC game against the Houston Dash.

Utah Royals FC

Last week against the Orlando Pride, URFC did a good job of playing soccer the way that Laura Harvey wants to play soccer. We saw good connection and passing throughout the game, and that play led to shooting opportunities. The Royals out-shot Orlando 9-7 in that game. Anytime a road team can out-shoot the home team is a good thing in my book.

Now, on to a few things that the Royals will likely be working to improve on in this game against Houston. First, of the nine shots that they took throughout the game, only 2 were on frame. That is a number that the Royals will definitely want to improve on.

Secondly, URFC had 45.7% of possession in the game against Orlando. That isn’t a bad number at all, especially considering they were playing against a very attack-minded Pride team in Orlando. However, we know that Laura Harvey wants to play possession-based soccer, so if they can increase their possession percentage, it should make everything go a little more smoothly in the system they are working to put in place and execute.

Third, the Royals only completed 69.1% of their passes. In a possession-based soccer system, a low passing completion percentage like that isn’t going to cut it. I would expect the Royals to continue to work on increasing their passing completion rate, and I would expect that rate to continue to get better as the players become more acclimated to each other and their individual playing styles.

Houston Dash

Houston opened their season last week with a 1-1 draw at home against the Chicago Red Stars. They took the lead in the 38th minute, and almost held onto it before conceding the equalizer in the first minute of second-half stoppage time. A few statistics of note from the Dash game are discussed below.

First, Houston conceded possession to the Red Stars, even at home. The Dash only had 41.1% possession throughout the game. This bodes well for Utah Royals FC and their desire to play possession-based soccer. If the Dash concede that much possession to the Royals, they will have plenty of opportunities to create several good scoring chances.

Secondly, despite having such a low percentage of the ball throughout the game, Houston was able to take 12 shots, 4 of which were on goal. This is something that URFC will need to be aware of and communicate well to stay balanced defensively. If they can do that, then they should be able to contain the Dash to limited opportunities.

Injury Report (via NWSLSoccer.com)

Houston Dash

OUT: Kyah Simon (right hamstring injury – D45), Thembi Kgatlana (excused absence)

QUESTIONABLE: Allison Wetherington (left ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Utah Royals FC

OUT: Alex Arlitt (left knee strain – D45), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion – D45), Kelley O’Hara (left hamstring strain), Amy Rodriguez (right knee – D45), Elise Thorsnes (concussion)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Katrina Gorry (AUS)

Predicted Lineup

Utah Royals FC: 4-2-3-1

GK: Smith

DF: Moros, Sauerbrunn, Corsie, Miramontez

MID: Bowen, Scott

MID: Stengel, Jonsdottir, Matheson

ST: Ratcliffe

Royals Keys to the Game

  1. Keep possession of the ball. If URFC can keep possession of the ball and increase their passing completion rate, they will be able to create good scoring opportunities.
  2. Beware of the counterattack. The Royals will need to work hard and communicate well to ensure that they remain balanced defensively and are able to retreat and assist each other in defending when the ball is turned over to the Dash.