Just three days after a spirited 0-0 draw against the Seattle Reign that saw Utah Royals FC put on perhaps their performance of the season (aside from actually scoring goals), URFC take on Sky Blue FC next. Will the Royals attack break through and score some goals? Let’s talk about how they can earn the full three points in this match.
Utah Royals FC
In their game against Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday, the new look URFC offense put up some good numbers, despite not scoring a goal. They took 18 total shots in the game and put 6 of those shots on frame. The Royals will be looking to build upon those numbers and actually score some goals, and they may just be able to do so against Sky Blue FC.
It will come as no surprise that a lot of the offense worked through Christen Press. She was responsible for 7 of the 18 total shots on goal and 4 of the 6 shots on frame all by herself. It is safe to say that she has definitely brought an attacking spark to this team, and one would only expect her influence to grow as she becomes more comfortable with and adjusted to her new teammates. Historically, Press has averaged close to a goal every other game that she has played in her career, regardless of where she has been playing. And she didn’t score in her first game against Seattle so....maybe we can expect a goal from her in this game.
In all honesty, all the Royals need to do in this game is the exact same as they did against Seattle, and they should start seeing more positive results. I expect that we will see the same 11 players in to come out hard and fast against a struggling Sky Blue FC team looking to shock them early and put the game out of reach.
Sky Blue FC
Sky Blue come to Rio Tinto without winning a game this season, following a 1-1 draw against the Portland Thorns on Wednesday night. The fact that both teams played on Wednesday is going to be a disadvantage to Sky Blue, as they have to come to altitude on short rest and try to perform at the highest level. That being said, Sky Blue may come into this game with a little bit of confidence, knowing that the Royals did not play well against them in their last meeting and only barely squeaked out a win on a late own goal.
As always, Sky Blue is going to play a lot of their game through star USWNT midfielder Carli Lloyd. It will be imperative for Desiree Scott to keep close tabs on her throughout the entire night and do everything that she can to shut Lloyd down. If she can do that, Sky Blue will have a much more difficult time getting on the scoreboard against a stout URFC defense.
Injury Update (via NWSLSoccer.com)
Utah Royals FC
OUT: Alex Arlitt (left knee strain – SEI), Makenzy Doniak (left knee ACL tear – SEI), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion – SEI), Kelley O’Hara (right hamstring strain)
Sky Blue FC
OUT: Jen Hoy (right knee sprain), Katie Johnson (right knee tendinitis), Amandine Pierre-Louis (right ankle sprain), Rebekah Stott (back strain)
QUESTIONABLE: McKenzie Meehan (right hamstring strain)
DF: Bowen, Corsie, Sauerbrunn, Moros
MF: Matheson, Scott, Jonsdottir, Gorry
FW: Rodriguez, Press
Royals’ keys to the match
- Continue to build the attack through Christen Press. All signs pointed to the fact that the URFC offense got a lot more potent with the addition of Press. It will be key to continue to integrate her into the team and get her and her teammates all on the same wavelength.
- Suppress Carli Lloyd. If the Royals can work together to take Lloyd out of the game, they will take the heart and soul of Sky Blue FC away. After that, it should not be too difficult for them to stand firm defensively and perhaps score a few goals as well.