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Match Preview: Utah Royals FC vs Orlando Pride

Royals return to Rio Tinto Stadium to host Orlando Pride in the NWSL Game of the Week.

Nikita Taparia

After a disappointing trip to the Pacific Northwest where Utah Royals FC lost two and conceded a total of five goals, Laura Harvey and the Royals return to the RioT, hoping to bounce back from the losses and pick up a vital win against the Orlando Pride.

Moving past the losses

Losing two in a row was not fun, especially to teams like Portland Thorns FC and Seattle Reign FC. The Royals suffered their worst defeat of the season in Portland, losing 4-0, and found themselves unable to score in Harvey’s return to Seattle in a 1-0 defeat. But it’s now time to move past those losses and get back to staying in contention for the critical late-season playoff push. Utah will now play four of its next five games at the RioT where they are 3-1-3 this season.

Scouting Orlando

Up first in the back-to-back home games for the Royals is the Orlando Pride. Orlando returns to Utah again for the final regular season meeting between the two teams. The previous two meetings in March and May resulted in stalemates.

Like the Royals, the Pride will be looking to bounce back from a 3-1 loss at Houston last Wednesday. The loss for Orlando ended the club’s six-game road game streak. The Pride are 4-3-2 on the road this season, making it the second-best road record in the NWSL.

Orlando is four points ahead of Utah in the NWSL standings, currently holding the number three spot. Utah and Orlando now find themselves in a five-team race for a playoff spot, separated by just five points.

Key players missing

Today’s matchup is one without key players for both teams. The Royals will be again without its team captain and leading defender Becky Sauerbrunn, who is sidelined with a left leg irritation. Utah will also miss Sam Johnson who is serving a one-game suspension due to accumulating two yellow cards against Seattle on Wednesday. The Pride will be without forward Marta on Saturday, who was issued a red card last Wednesday.

Still, Utah and Orlando will have players who have an opportunity to step up in this game. Sydney Miramontez will likely fill in the CB spot for Utah, and Chioma Ubogagu at forward for the Pride.

It’s a game where both teams are playing for a much-needed win, so players like Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, Katrina Gorry, and Gunny Jónsdóttir will need to have good games offensively for the Royals, and Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen, and the defense will need to limit Orlando’s chances.

Match details

When: Saturday, July 14th, 5:00 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT

Weather: Cloudy, 88 degrees

Broadcast: ESPNews, ESPN app, ESPN 700 (radio)

Referee: Reyna Fonseca