Utah Royals FC returned to Providence Park for another Friday night matchup, the second of the season against Portland Thorns FC and third game overall against Portland, hoping to erase the memory of the last time they played at Providence Park in May where they lost 2-0. This time, however, the Royals suffered their worst defeat of the season, falling to the Thorns 4-0.
There was hope that with the addition of Christen Press and a much-improved offense from the previous two games, that this would be an exciting game. It was all Portland, though, as Utah conceded three goals in the first half, one of them right after kickoff. Tobin Heath, as she dribbled in the box in the 2nd minute, was not pressured enough, giving her enough space and time to chip in the ball for Portland’s first goal.
Portland continued the pressure, testing Utah’s offense. On a set piece in the 32nd minute, Lindsey Horan, running inside the box, headed the ball into the after a service from Heath for the 2-0 lead. And just two minutes later, the Thorns again found the back of the net as Horan and Heath tried to connect again. Utah defender Becky Sauerbrunn tried to disrupt the pass, but the ball deflected onto Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, who was waiting at the top of the box and took the opportunity for a one-touch for the goal.
If three goals were not enough in the first half, the second half added one more as Tyler Lussi, who subbed in for Tobin Heath in the 62nd minute, immediately scored on a run after Horan passed the ball through the Utah defense and found Lussi for the fourth goal and final goal of the night, handing Utah their fourth loss of the season.
Much can be said about how the Royals looked disjointed offensively and broke down defensively. Head coach Laura Harvey commented on Portland’s play that disrupted Utah’s game plan for the night:
“I thought they pressed really well against us. We gave the ball away and were sloppy in some areas. I thought all of the goals we could have done a lot better on – you can’t give away those goals and expect to stay in games. But I said to the players that with games like tonight, I’m going to look at myself first and take the responsibility for this defeat. We will review it and make sure that we get better. That wasn’t really us in the first-half – I felt that we played a little bit more like us in the second-half. Credit to them; I felt they were the better team tonight.”
Utah continues its road trip in the Pacific Northwest for a game against Seattle Reign FC on Wednesday where they will hope to bounce back from this defeat. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM MT.