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Hand Ball Derby comes to Utah: Utah Royals FC vs. Orlando Pride game preview

It’s the second meeting of the 2019 NWSL season between Utah Royals FC and the Orlando Pride. This time, Orlando comes to the RioT.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Okay. We can breathe easier now after that game in North Carolina that had us on the edge of our seats. Somehow, after facing 18 shots to 2, Utah Royals FC escaped Cary with a point, maintaining hold of second place. Saturday’s game will offer us a slight sigh of relief as the Orlando Pride (without their international stars) come to Utah. The last time these two met was a month ago in Orlando where URFC came away with their second win of the season.

So, is Orlando better now?

No, not really. Orlando is still winless, going with five losses and a draw, allowing 13 goals and only scoring two. That’s good news for Utah, facing a team that is in poor form. To make matters worse, Orlando is without their international players, who are officially with their national teams in preparation for the World Cup that starts in two weeks (see Injury Report below). Sorry, Alex Morgan in Utah fangirls.

With or without their national team players, though, Orlando has yet to show that they are a team that will be contenders. Teamwork, a solid defense, and few shots on target have have been the Pride’s biggest weaknesses this season. Thankfully, they seem to believe in their head coach, Marc Skinner, but Skinner is not out there on the pitch.

To read more on Orlando, Michael Citro of the Mane Land gave us an update on what’s going on with the Pride.

Orlando Pride Stats

Record: 0-5-1 (9th place)
Head Coach: Marc Skinner
Clean Sheets: 0
Goals Allowed Per Game: 2.2
Total Shots: 54
Shots on Target: 11
Players to Watch: Dani Weatherfold, Chioma Ubogagu, Rachel Hill

Orlando Injury Report

OUT: Sydney Leroux (MAT), Joanna Boyles (excused absence)

QUESTIONABLE: Kristen Edmonds (left knee), Alika Keene (right knee)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Alex Morgan (USA), Ali Krieger (USA), Ashlyn Harris (USA), Alanna Kennedy (AUS), Emily van Egmond (AUS), Marta (BRA), Camila (BRA), Shelina Zadorsky (CAN)

Is this the game where Utah finally breaks the one-goal curse?

If there’s a game where’s it’s going to happen. There’s a high probability it will be in this one because of Orlando’s defense, especially without Ali Krieger and Alanna Kennedy. The good news: Amy Rodriguez is on fye! She has scored a goal in the last three games (against Chicago, Houston, and North Carolina). The bad news: Utah cannot seem to get past the one goal in a game. It was fine against Washington, Chicago, Orlando because it seemed to be enough to get them the win. But then, they get into a situation where they have the lead and allow a goal.

As my fellow Soapbox writes RJ Allen said last week:

Utah has been the most consistent team in the league when it comes to scoring. The problem seems to be their consistency to score one goal a game, and then have a drop off in drive and energy that haunts them for the rest of the match.

Utah is then is left scrambling to get that second goal, like it did against Houston and North Carolina. Houston managed to break the deadlock and score for the second goal for the win, while North Carolina, by some crazy miracle, could not get the game-winner.

One goal is cool and exciting when URFC takes the lead, but two goals would be much sweeter. Three? Well, even better!

Prediction: Utah Royals FC win, 2-0

Notes:

  • Defender Rachel Corsie is officially off to the World Cup. That’ll be a huge role to fill for the defender to take her place.
  • Saturday’s match will serve as the last for Katie Bowen with Royals FC before she, too, heads to France with New Zealand for the World Cup.

Utah Injury Report

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

QUESTIONABLE: None

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


Match Details

When: Saturday, May 25, 2019 | 6 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT

Weather: 67 degrees, mostly cloudy

Live Stream: KSL TV app, Yahoo Sports app

Referee: Karen Abt