When: Saturday, June 15, 2019 | 8 PM MT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, Utah
Weather: 80 degrees, sunny
Live Stream: KSL TV app, Yahoo Sports app
Radio: ESPN 700
Tickets: Buy now
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is fully underway in France, but back in the States, it’s back to business as usual in the NWSL, and Utah Royals FC return to the RioT this Saturday to host Sky Blue FC, the first time both team face each other this season. This game matters. They all do, actually, but there’s something about returning after a loss two weeks ago. To refresh your memory a bit, the last time we saw Royals FC in action they lost 2-0 to the Washington Spirit. It wasn’t the way the team wanted to head into the FIFA break, but it’s time to move past it and put all the focus into Sky Blue FC and the remaining of the NWSL season.
Sky Blue FC: another winless season, so far
If there was a team to face after a 2-0 loss, it might as well be Sky Blue FC, who have yet to win a single game this season. They do have two draws to their name and against top teams, North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC, but 2019 is looking very much like 2018, staying at the bottom of the league.
Sky Blue FC Stats
Record: 0-5-2 (8th place)
Head Coach: Denise Reddy
Clean Sheets: 1
Goals Allowed Per Game: 1.6
Total Shots: 51
Shots on Target: 19
Players to Watch: Imani Dorsey - 1 goal; Raquel Rodriguez - 2 goals, 1 assist
Sky Blue FC Injury Report
OUT: Mandy Freeman (Right achilles tendon repair), Madison Tiernan (Left ACL/MCL sprain), Domi Richardson (left ankle)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Carli Lloyd (USA), Estelle Johnson (CMR), Kailen Sheridan (CAN)
Utah looks to return to winning
Yes, Utah lost their last game, suffering only their second loss of the season and staying in the top four, one point behind Portland with 13 points overall. But head coach Laura Harvey and Royals FC now look to return to a winning streak, much like the one that skyrocketed them to the top of the standings until that Washington defeat.
And like I said, Sky Blue FC may just be the opponent Utah needs to get back to winning. Against Sky Blue, URFC enters the match with a 2-0-1 (7 points) all-time record against Sky Blue. The last time these two teams met in August 2018 in New Jersey, it ended in a 2-2 draw on a dramatic last-minute stoppage-time goal from Amy Rodriguez to earn a vital point on the road.
Keys for winning:
- Amy Rodriguez. She’s been Utah’s most consistent player on the attack since Christen Press left for international duty. With four goals in five games, she’s Utah’s leading scorer and third in the league. If she has a good game, Utah will as well.
- The backline. With Becky Sauerbrunn, Rachel Corsie, and Katie Bowen at the World Cup, the Utah backup defenders (Sam Johnson, Becca Moros, and company) need a solid game to boost their confidence.
Prediction: Utah Royals FC win, 2-0
Utah Injury Report
OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left knee), Maddie Nolf (Left hip), Taylor Lytle (SEI-Left foot)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Becky Sauerbrunn (USA), Kelley O’Hara (USA), Christen Press (USA), Desiree Scott (CAN), Diana Matheson (CAN), Rachel Corsie (SCO), Katie Bowen (NZL)
Utah midfielder Lo’eau LaBonta has been suspended for two games by the NWSL Disciplinary Committee. LaBonta was suspended for “conduct that was determined to be a major game misconduct during the 53rd minute of Utah’s match against the Orlando Pride on May 25, 2019,” the league said in a news release issued on May 30. LaBonta will serve the suspension in Utah’s matches on June 1 and June 15.