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Courage slayin’, part 4: Utah Royals FC @ North Carolina Courage game preview

Utah Royals FC return to North Carolina to do what they do best, frustrate the Courage, hopefully.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Alright. Last week could have gone better than that 2-1 loss to the Houston Dash. It should have, but that’s why they play the game, and why matches are never just won on paper. And now, Utah Royals FC look to get back to winning after suffering their first loss of the season. It won’t be easy, though. It never is in the NWSL, and especially against the defending NWSL champions, the North Carolina Courage.

Scouting North Carolina Courage

Record: 2-1-2 (4th place)

Head Coach: Paul Riley

Leading goalscorers:
Crystal Dunn: 4 goals, 1 assist
Lynn Williams: 3 goals, 2 assists

Goalkeepers:
Stephanie Labbé: 7 saves, 2 goals against, 2 clean sheets
Katelyn Rowland: 0 saves, 3 goals allowed

The North Carolina Courage are off to a slow start, managing only 8 points with 2 wins and 2 draws. Last week, Chicago Red Stars handed them their first loss of the season. For real! And North Carolina has not won a game since April 28. True story!

So what’s happening to the mighty Courage? Well, North Carolina was hit by the U.S. Women’s National Team Send-Off Series calendar, losing Sam Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Jessica McDonald, and Crystal Dunn. All four U.S. international players are super core players for the Courage, and the Courage have had to adapt without them, and it hasn’t worked out well. You’re talking about a draw to Sky Blue FC and, of course, that 3-1 loss to Chicago.

Don’t count the Courage out yet, though, and expect them to give Utah a tough game. Thankfully, North Carolina has not had the much success against Utah, holding a 0-2-1 record.

North Carolina Injury Report

OUT: Hailey Harbison (Left Knee); Peyton Perea (Left Thigh)

QUESTIONABLE: None

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Abby Dahlkemper (USA), Crystal Dunn (USA), Jessica McDonald (USA), Samantha Mewis (USA), Stephanie Labbé (CAN)

Utah Royals FC look to bounce back

Last week, we worried how the team would look without Canadian international Desiree Scott, and our fears were validated. The defense, especially, struggled, since Scott was able to play a third center back when needed. Utah will continue without Scott until Canada’s time at the Women’s World Cup in France concludes this summer. So, maybe, possibly, for sure Utah will have to learn to adapt without its Destroyer.

Losing Scott is one thing, but becoming complacent may have cost Utah the game. Utah Royals FC controlled much of the game against Houston, but they lost steam and the urgency to win. As head coach Laura Harvey said:

From the 30-minute mark on, we just dropped our standard, and you can’t do that in this league — it’s unforgiving.

URFC will need to play the full 90 minutes against the Courage if they want to get back to their winning ways. The good news: Utah tends to play well against North Carolina. Last year, they were the only team to give the Courage their only loss, and North Carolina has yet to beat URFC.

Prediction: Utah Royals FC win, 2-1

Cool notes:

  • Makenzy Doniak returns to North Carolina for the first time since being traded to Utah last summer. We think she looks better in Royals gold.
  • On Monday, Utah signed forward Mallory Weber off the NWSL Waiver Wire. Weber previously spent three seasons with Portland Thorns FC.

Utah Injury Report

OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left knee), Maddie Nolf (Left hip), Taylor Lytle (SEI-Left foot)

QUESTIONABLE: Sydney Miramontez (Right foot)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Becky Sauerbrunn (USA), Kelley O’Hara (USA), Christen Press (USA), Desiree Scott (CAN), Diana Matheson (CAN)


Match Details

When: Sunday, May 19, 2019 | 3 PM MT

Where: Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park | Cary, North Carolina

Weather: 89 degrees, sunny

Live Stream: KSL TV app, Yahoo Sports app

Referee: Carol Anne Chenard