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Match Preview: Utah Royals FC vs Washington Spirit

Lucas Muller - RSL Soapbox

After securing an important three points in Houston, our Golden Lionesses return home for two of the last three home matches of the year this week. Up first it’s the struggling Washington Spirit, who are winless in their last ten, including 6 losses in a row.

Beware of the trap

Especially when needing to win as many matches as possible, a team needs to be careful not to play down to their opponents. The Spirit are on a rough patch right now, but like any NWSL team they’ll be looking for an opportunity to change their trend, and can win at any time if their opponent isn’t prepared. Though they’re traveling home and will get just one practice in before the match, the Royals have to come out ready to secure victory and move ahead on the path to the playoffs. They can’t risk looking past Washington to the visit from Seattle on the weekend, but instead have to focus on putting this one away and controlling the match from the first whistle.

Shifting lineups

I wrote last week that the team needs to find a consistent starting lineup, though that may not be possible as the season comes to a close. Desiree Scott missed the match in Houston, and Kelley O’Hara may be close to returning. Various players move in and out of top form, and there are midweek games and tactical adjustments to consider. Ultimately, it will be a true team effort to get the best performance each match.

Recognize their strengths

Despite their string of poor results, there are still talented players on the Spirit squad. Ashley Hatch is always a threat to score from anywhere within 30 yards of the goal, while Mallory Pugh, Rose Lavelle, and Andi Sullivan are also top young players in the league. Lavelle just had an amazing goal for the U.S. Women’s National team during the Tournament of Nations, and Pugh has several great goals to her name as well. Careful control of possession similar to the win in Houston will go a long way to giving the Royals the best chance to win.

Match details

When: Wednesday, August 8th, 8:00 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT

Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL (app), go90, ESPN 700 (radio)

Referee: Rosendo Mendoza