Three games in seven days was always going to be a challenge for Utah Royals FC, especially one against 2nd place Seattle Reign FC in the NWSL Game of the Week, add the high temperatures plus low air quality due to an uncontrolled blaze burning in southeastern Utah County, and the Royals struggled significantly at Rio Tinto Stadium today.
Harvey opted to change her line-up again, including starting Abby Smith, resting Amy Rodriguez, and moving Christen Press to the number 9 position. The good news is that Desiree Scott returned to the 18 after missing the last two games with a right squad strain, and Katrina Gorry earned another start.
Still, it proved to a be a sluggish starts for both teams. Neither side really threatened one another in the first half. The Royals had trouble holding on to the ball, often giving it away to Seattle and did not create any chances. Utah managed just one shot on target, and Seattle had three. All in all, it was not the most exciting first half for either team.
Returning to the second half, it was Seattle Reign FC who would take the lead in the 48th minute. After Utah cleared the ball off a corner kick, Seattle regained possession. Megan Oyster sent the ball to the 18 where Jess Fishlock drove it in with a powerful header.
Utah found themselves trying to equalize in the second half, and Harvey made changes to strengthen the attack. Desiree Scott, Amy Rodriguez and Katie Stengel all subbed in. Though the Royals eagerly pressed to get a goal, many shots were off target and Seattle did enough to disrupt the opportunities, and for the second time against the Reign, Utah saw another loss added to their record.
“The game plan that we had, we didn’t execute until the last five minutes,” said Harvey post-match, which was the biggest frustration for the team.
Utah Royals FC now try to move forward. “We gotta take care of business,” Harvey said. The next three games are crucial for the Royals if they hope to make the postseason, and they are must wins. Utah heads to New Jersey next week to take on Sky Blue FC.