Tonight, Utah Royals FC are again in North Carolina to take on the Courage. With several of their players returning from successful national team ventures during the FIFA break, the Royals will be looking to come back together and get the win against the Courage that they were so close to getting the last time these two teams met. What can URFC do to secure 3 points? Let’s talk!
Utah Royals FC
As we have discussed on multiple previous occasions, the hallmark of this Royals team is their defense. Today’s matchup pits the league’s most prolific offense against the league’s top defense. The first key to success will be standing strong against the Courage offense that has scored 24 goals in 12 games this season. Royals defenders Brooke Elby, Rachel Corsie, Becky Sauerbrunn and Becca Moros are going to have to be on point and focused for the full 90 minutes to see out a result in North Carolina.
The Royals should be encouraged by their previous outing against the Courage in North Carolina, where they led 2-1 until late in the game when an unfortunate series of events led to a late equalizer and shared points in the game. If they can keep that in their memory, they should have a good fighting chance to grind out a result tonight.
The key to all of this is going to be the ability for the Royals to score goals. An excellent defense can turn a lot of potential losses into but is necessary to win games. The Royals attack has still not come together very well, having scored only 9 goals in 10 games, which is total in the league. Look in the attack, and Brooke Elby pushing forward from her fullback role to join the attack. When this happens is when the Royals have been most dangerous this season, and I expect that they will try to replicate that as much as possible.
North Carolina is a force to be reckoned with so far this NWSL season, racking up 9 wins and 3 draws in the 12 games they have played so far. The key to this Courage team is that they all work together and share the workload. No player on their team has more than 4 goals, which shows that they are sharing the goalscoring workload well. At least three different players on their team have 3 assists, which also shows that the team is being very unselfish and passing to the open player to score goals. In short, they are working incredibly well together as a team.
Expect the Courage to come out in a 4-4-2 formation and look to defend as a team and attack as a team. The key to overcoming this for URFC is going to be trying to break quickly and counterattack when NC turns the ball over. Forcing the team to make quick defensive decisions on the break is what leads to mistakes, leads to breakdowns, and creates opportunities for goals to be scored. If the Royals can catch the Courage on the counter, we should be able to have a few excellent goal scoring opportunities. The key to winning the game will be if they are able to convert those chances.
Injury Update (via NWSLSoccer.com)
North Carolina Courage
OUT: Abby Dahlkemper (right knee pain), Makenzy Doniak (left knee ACL tear – SEI), Liz Eddy (left quadriceps strain), Julie King (left ankle repair)
QUESTIONABLE: Lynn Williams (right hamstring strain)
Utah Royals FC
OUT: Alex Arlitt (left knee strain – SEI), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion – SEI), Kelley O’Hara (right hamstring strain)
DF: Elby, Corsie, Sauerbrunn, Moros
MF: Gorry, Scott
MF: Matheson, Jonsdottir, Tymrak
Royals’ keys to the match
- Make a breakthrough in the attack. If the Royals want to win this game today and have any hopes of making it into the playoffs this season, they have to sort out their offense, fast. Hopefully a week away from league play has given them the opportunity to implement some new ideas to score goals.
- Stand stout defensively. The Royals’ hallmark has been defense, and I expect the defense will continue to stand out. I have no doubt that the dirty defensive work will continue to get done, giving the Royals the chances they need to get their attack going and start winning some games.