Utah Royals FC entered Friday night’s matchup against the Houston Dash without two key players - defender Kelley O’Hara (hamstring strain) and forward Elise Thorsnes (concussion). Katie Stengel replaced Thorsnes in the #9 spot, and Sydney Miramontez started for O’Hara.
The changes would change the dynamic from last week’s game. Without O’Hara, the Royals missed a flair to their attack from the back. Still, the Royals dominated possession throughout the game, both in terms of passing completion and maintaining possession. By the 59th-minute, Utah led in total passes with 411 to Houston’s 215 and completed 83.2% of their passes.
Though Utah had plenty of chances to take the lead in both halves, it was goalkeeper Jane Campbell who made big-time saves to keep the game scoreless. In the 28th-minute, Utah set up for a dangerous set piece at the top of the box after Brittany Ratcliffe was fouled. Gunny Jónsdóttir took the kick, aiming right for the goal, but Campbell tipped it over the net. At the 71st-minute, Utah had consecutive shots, first by Jónsdóttir whose attempt on goal was denied by Campbell’s right foot and then a Tymrak follow-up went wide of the near post.
Both teams were too defensively organized throughout the game, and any chances the Dash and the Royals had were not enough to break the deadlock.
The Royals head to the FIFA international break with two points. Next game: the much-anticipated home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium on April 14th against the Chicago Red Stars for the NWSL Game of the Week on Lifetime. Get your tickets here!
- It was the first time since 2013 that two women coaches have faced each other in NWSL. Laura Harvey, in her sixth season, is the NWSL’s winningest coach while Houston’s Vera Pauw coached her second NWSL season game.
- Becca Moros left the game in the 31st minute with an injury.
- Brooke Elby, Lo’eau LaBonta, and Erika Tymrak made their first appearances for the 2018 season coming in as substitutes.
- Shots: URFC 9-7 HOU
- SOG: URFC 6-0 HOU
- Corners: URFC 4-2 HOU
- Fouls: URFC 5-9 HOU
- Possession: URFC 66%-33% HOU