Utah Royals FC headed to Providence Park on Friday night to play Portland Thorns FC on the road for the first time this season. This match was the first after Lo’eau LaBonta’s return from suspension. Vero Boquete was forced to miss this one due to injury.
Utah still was able to field an incredibly strong starting 11 despite losing Vero. Two notable differences from last week were the additions of Sydney Miramontez and Mallory Weber to the roster. This was Weber’s first time returning to Providence Park since being traded to Utah.
In the majority of this season, Utah has started games off as the better team. Known for coming out of the gate quickly, Utah struggled a bit in the early stages of this one when Portland nullified their attack. The Thorns got a few good looks in the first 10 minutes of this match including a great look in the 7th minute that forced Nicole Barnhart into a big diving save.
After that, both teams began to settle into this match. The first half was pretty back and forth for the majority of the half, but towards the end, Utah did have a few good chances. Utah got a free kick in the 36’ that did ultimately just sail out of bounds, but shortly after, Utah was able to get a few shots on goal. Neither side truly dominated the first half, but Utah seemed to be able to connect to one another more successfully than Portland.
Going into the half Utah edged out Portland in possession by 53 to 47 percent, but regardless, the teams went into half with a few decent looks and still tied 0-0.
Coming out of halftime, Portland was quick to get a few chances but Utah responded well. In the 51’, Utah got two good looks at goal, including a long range shot from LaBonta that was shot right at Britt Eckerstrom. LaBonta’s shot was answered by a great corner attempt from Portland that went just over the crossbar. Both teams were very quick to get some chances early in the second half. LaBonta also picked up a yellow card in the 57th minute for a jersey pull.
The middle of the second half was similar to the first half, pretty back and forth and a handful of chances here and there, with nothing too exciting happening. Portland was able to get a great shot in the 64th minute, but it went just wide. Shortly after, Portland subbed off Simone Charley for Tyler Lussi.
Samantha Johnson made a huge clearance in the 69’ to keep Utah level 0-0 in this one. Utah then made an attacking minded sub, subbing off Mandy Laddish for Katie Stengel.
From the sub in the 70’ to the next sub for Erika Tymrak to bring on Makenzy Doniak in the 82’, not too much happened. Like the rest the game, there were a few good chances but a lot of passing around trying to break down the others defense unsuccessfully.
In the 93’ URFC subbed off Mallory Weber to bring on Raisa Strom-Okimoto.
After 90 minutes of incredible defensive showings from these two teams, this one would end 0-0.
Utah Royals FC’s next match is back at home Friday versus Reign FC.