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Friday night lights: Utah Royals FC vs. Chicago Red Stars preview

Utah Royals FC return to The Riot to host Chicago Red Stars on a Friday night.

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Oh, hello, again. It’s week three of NWSL play for Utah Royals FC, who sit at the number two spot in the standings. Two wins, two clean sheets, and yet to suffer the agony of defeat. What a difference a year makes, right?

But it’s about to get real. Washington Spirit and Orlando Pride were worthy opponents, but they were playing under a new head coach, likely getting familiar with a new system. Chicago Red Stars, however, have had the same head coach since 2013, know each other well, and are a well-rounded team. Believe that this game will be a real test for Utah Royals FC.

Scouting Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Red Stars, like Utah, have yet to lose a game. They won one (3-0 vs Reign FC) and have two draws (versus North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC), and they are third in the NWSL standings, one below Royals FC. Make no mistake about it, the Red Stars are a team with depth and already having faced the three playoff teams from last year, without a loss, will surely make for exciting matchup at the RioT.

Players like Sam Kerr, Yuki Nagasato, Danielle Colaprico, Casey Short, and Katie Johnson, add to that depth mentioned above. Even with U.S. National Team players (Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Alyssa Naeher, and Tierna Davidson) on international duty for this game, Chicago will look to its talented bench that includes players like Alyssa Mautz, Michelle Vasconcelos, and former Utah Royal Brooke Elby (it’s okay to shed a tear here).

In terms of head-to-head meetings, Chicago holds the edge with two wins, one that came at the grand home opener last year, spoiling the party. But Utah has a notch on that series, ending the 2018 regular season with a 2-1 win at the RioT last September.

Chicago Injury Report

QUESTIONABLE: Vanessa DiBernardo (Left Hip), Nikki Stanton (Left Hip), Arin Wright (Right Thigh)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Morgan Brian (USA), Tierna Davidson (USA), Julie Ertz (USA), Alyssa Naeher (USA)

Utah Royals FC look to get a third win

Utah is the only team that has not drawn or lost a game. Yea, I know. They’ve played two games, but still! The team is looking 1000 times better than they did a year ago. Thanks to a solid defense and being able to finish their chances when they needed, Utah is enjoying a nice start to the season with back-to-back wins.

But with the departure of Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, and Christen Press for preparations for the World Cup and the growing list of injuries (see Injury Report below), it might be time to hold on to your hats for a bit. The loss of international players is one thing, but when those players, who are to fill in when those players leave, are injured, then that’s when we can panic a little. The roster is looking a little thin with 15 available players. So we shall await and see how Laura Harvey manages this one as the team looks to stay undefeated.

Utah Injury Report

OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left knee), Sydney Miramontez (Right foot), Becca Moros (Left knee), Diana Matheson (Left foot), Maddie Nolf (Left hip), Taylor Lytle (Left foot)

QUESTIONABLE: Makenzy Doniak (L knee)

INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Becky Sauerbrunn (USA), Kelley O’Hara (USA), Christen Press (USA)


Match details

When: Friday, May 3, 2019 | 7:30 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT

Weather: 61 degrees, clear skies

Live Stream: KSL, Yahoo Sports app

Referee: Farhad Dadkho