Tonight, Utah Royals FC continue their long stretch of road games as they travel to Chicago to take on the Red Stars. URFC are looking for revenge, as Chicago came to Rio Tinto Stadium and managed to snag all three points from the home side during their season opener back in April. What can the Royals do to come out on top of this matchup? Let’s talk!
Utah Royals FC
The Royals come into this game on a high note, thanks to a win last week against the league leaders, NC Courage. Brittany Ratcliffe’s stoppage time NWSL goal of the week winning strike proved to be the only difference between the two sides. The biggest thing the win over the Courage is going to do is give the Royals confidence. Thus far, they are the only team in the league to have beaten NC, so the confidence boost will be there. They should carry that momentum into today’s game against the Red Stars.
Despite the confidence boost, I expect the Royals to still come out and play much like they did against the Courage: defense first, and then break and look to score when they can. Laura Harvey is a big believer of winning at home and making sure you don’t lose on the road. I expect we see a similar game plan to last week in hopes of seeing out a similar result.
In a personnel shift, I do think that we will see Brittany Ratcliffe start in one of the winger roles this week. I believe she has been showing well that she belongs in the starting 11 during her last few substitute appearances, and of course, scoring goals is going to make everyone think harder about if she should be playing more.
Newly-traded players Christen Press and Samantha Johnson will not make their Royals’ debuts tonight, due to a gentleman’s agreement that went along with the blockbuster trade that brought them to the team.
The Red Stars are currently sitting in 6th place in the league with a record of 3-3-7 through 13 games in 2018, good for 16 points. A win by Chicago today would see them leapfrog URFC in the league standings, so I expect them to come out and work hard today in an attempt to notch a win at home.
One thing to keep an eye on is whether USWNT midfielder Morgan Brian, who just re-signed with the Red Stars a few days ago from Lyon in France, appears in the game. She could definitely bring a tactical wrinkle into the game that the Royals might not have been orginally expecting, seeing how they react to her presence should she play will be important for those first few minutes she is in the game.
Injury Update (via NWSLSoccer.com)
Chicago Red Stars
OUT: Stephanie McCaffrey (illness)
QUESTIONABLE: Rosie White (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: Bowen, Corsie, Sauerbrunn, Moros
MF: Scott, Gorry
MF: Matheson, Jonsdottir, Ratcliffe
Royals’ keys to the match
- Play defensive first. The most important thing in this game is that the Royals don’t lose and get leapfrogged in the standings by the Red Stars. Even a draw keeps them ahead of Chicago, so if they can shut down the Red Stars offense and come away with even just a draw, it’s still a good result.
- Take advantage of scoring opportunities. That being said, URFC will have opportunities to score. If they are able to take advantage of those opportunities then we might just see another win on the road like we did last week.