After a major win in North Carolina, ending the Courage’s undefeated streak, Utah Royals FC came to Chicago confident. That confidence, though, was not enough to keep the momentum for another big win on the road against Chicago Red Stars as the Royals gave up two goals in the second half for a tough loss.
A slow first half kept the game scoreless at halftime, but it was in the 62nd minute, off a set piece started in the middle third, that gave Chicago the lead. Goalkeeper Abby Smith was unfortunately too far off her line to save Katie Naughton’s header. She, however, attempted to save the ball, but it was too late, and Smith collided with the far post, which was a scary sight to see the Royals’ starting goalkeeper on the ground after the collision with the goal post. After immediate attention, Smith remained in the game.
The lofted header from @k_naughton24 gets @chiredstarsPR on the board at home and it's her first career #NWSL goal.#CHIvUTA | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/FbnYXcNipC— NWSL (@NWSL) June 24, 2018
Eight minutes later, Chicago extended their lead with another goal. Sam Kerr found herself one-on-one with Becky Sauerbrunn in the box, but Vanessa DiBenardo, who had just entered the game in the 66th minute, was left unmarked, and Kerr opted to pass her the ball. DiBenardo had plenty of time to score the game-winning goal.
She's back! @vdibernardo10 adds another for @chiredstarsPR, giving them the 2–0 lead.#CHIvUTA | #NWSL pic.twitter.com/A1dbK3PNzk— NWSL (@NWSL) June 24, 2018
It was not a good game for the Royals offense who managed just three shots on goal. Still, Utah maintained 55.2% possession and a passing accuracy of 70.7%. Struggling to create chances in the final third again hurt the Royals, and Chicago simply was able to finish theirs.
Utah now returns to Rio Tinto for a midweek matchup against Seattle Reign FC. Hopefully, the addition of Christen Press, who should be available for the game, can be the beginning of an improved offense.