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Utah Royals FC vs Washington Spirit: Match Preview

Team full of young stars makes their first visit to Utah.

Kelley O’Hara
Cindy Lara - RSL Soapbox

Another week, another draw.

A stunning goal from Amy Rodriguez wasn’t enough to hold a lead against a mistake that led to a Tobin Heath equalizer against Portland last week. This leaves the Royals still looking for their first win as they play their second of four straight at home against Washington Spirit this week. Here’s what we’re looking at as the game approaches on Saturday.

Work in progress

Kelley O’Hara said after training this week what many of us have also thought about Utah Royals FC through the first five matches: It’s just going to take time for this group, which has seen significant changes from the core group of Kansas City players from last year, to find the cohesiveness to be fully effective on the field.

Injuries and roster rotation have all played a part in both moments of brilliance, as well as some mental lapses that have kept us from seeing the best this team can be. A solid week of training, and a day off spent by several players enjoying the natural beauty of Utah, should help build the chemistry and focus needed to win.

An opportunity to shine

The Spirit possess a lot of quality talent all across the roster, including April GK of the Month Audrey Blesdoe and strikers Mallory Pugh and Ashley Hatch. Pugh is one of the most dangerous one-on-one attackers in the league, capable of running straight at the goal and finding nearly impossible angles around the goalkeeper. It will be something of a homecoming for Hatch, the former Brigham Young University star, who is very capable of shooting and scoring from outside the box and is dangerous on free kicks. 2018 top pick Andi Sullivan is also a handful in the center of the midfield and helps generate a Spirit attack that has managed 7 goals so far this season.

On the other side, their defense has allowed 8 goals, so if there is a moment for Royals FC to get the attack organized and score a few in support of a win, this is the time.

Before it’s too late

Six matches in NWSL represents 14 of the season. It’s not time to panic, but sitting in seventh place and without a win is definitely cause for concern. The team won’t have more than two in a row at home after this long stretch, so it’s important to figure out the identity and get on a winning streak. The team needs a boost to their confidence so they can see how to make things work, so this is kind of a pivot point in the season that shapes the rest of the year for this team. Kickoff details are below, so join us at the RioT for another great night of the best women’s soccer in the world.

Match details

When: Saturday, May 5th, 7:00 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT

Weather: Sunny, 76 degrees

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL App, go90, ESPN 700

Referee: Reyna Fonseca