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The one where they all return: Utah Royals FC vs. Portland Thorns FC match preview

Utah Royals FC host Portland Thorns FC in another Friday Night Lights matchup at the #RioT. Oh, yea, and everyone is back from the World Cup.

Cindy Lara | RSL Soapbox

Match Details

Utah Royals FC (5-4-2) vs. Portland Thorns FC (6-2-4)

When: Friday, July 19, 2019 | 8:00 PM MT

Where: Rio Tinto Stadium | Sandy, UT

Weather: 87 degrees, partly cloudy

Live Stream: KSL TV app, Yahoo Sports app

Radio: ESPN 700

Tickets: Buy now

It’s the one where they all return. The World Cup is over. No player is away. They’re all back. Corsie. Bowen. O’Hara. Sauerbrunn. Scott. Press. And oh, it’ll be so good for Utah Royals FC to get their players back at this mid-season slump. In the last three games, Utah has a draw and two losses that has plummeted them to 5th place, one point behind Washington Spirit. And if Utah is going to save their season, this matchup against Portland Thorns FC is a definite must-win.

Portland will be a thorn

Record: 6-2-4 (22 points, 2nd place)
Head Coach: Mark Parsons
Clean Sheets: 4
Goals Conceded: 16
Goals per game: 1.3
Total Shots: 120
Shots on Target: 60

Players to Watch: Midge Purce - 6 goals; Meghan Klingenberg - 4 assists; Christine Sinclair - 4 goals, 1 assist

Well, a month makes a difference. The last time we looked at Portland, Royals FC were ahead in the standings by one point. Now, the tables have turned, and the Thorns are five points of ahead, chilling comfortably as one of the best teams in the NWSL, tied for first with the North Carolina Courage. The Thorns are fresh off a 4-3 victory over the Orlando Pride last Sunday with a last-minute goal from Tyler Lussi. The win likely propelled their confidence, and with the return of all of their international players (think Tobin Heath, Adrianna Franch, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett, Caitlin Foord, Ellie Carpenter, Hayley Raso, Christine Sinclair), they’ll present quite a tough challenge to Utah.

2019 meetings: 1, Friday, June 21, 2019. Providence Park, Portland. Score: 0-0
All-Time Series Record: 0-2-2

Portland Thorns FC Injury Report

OUT: Angela Salem (Left Knee), Ana Crnogorcevic (Left Thigh)

QUESTIONABLE: None

For Utah, losing ain’t an option

A 1-0 defeat to Sky Blue FC last week, despite maintaining a majority of the possession, was the setback of all setbacks. Okay. That sounds dramatic, but the disappointing loss made us all wonder if Utah’s season was in peril. While I don’t think we’ve reached that point, it put a damper on the season, at least temporarily. And this might have been the wake up call head coach Laura Harvey needed to really get those tactics and game plans a revision. The good news? Utah will be at full strength again with the return of Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara, and Christen Press. The bad news? We don’t really know how much they’ll play. The hope is that they do play enough for O’Hara and Press to boost that attack to score goals, and for Sauerbrunn to do Becky things leading the defense again with Rachel Corsie. If Utah is going to really stay in contention, this game vs. Portland cannot be another disappointment.

URFC Stats

Clean Sheets: 6
Goals Conceded: 8
Goals Allowed Per Game: 0.7
Total Shots: 90
Shots on Target: 41
Goals Scored: 8
Leading scorer: Amy Rodriguez - 5 goals.

Keys to winning:

  • Score some goals. Simple. But maybe not so simple because Utah has not scored since June 15. Last week’s game resulted in one shot on goal. One. Games are not won if a team cannot produce shots on goal. Utah has to create chances.
  • Play with urgency. Perhaps a major reason why Utah lost to Sky Blue was due to a lack of urgency. This goes back to that one shot on goal. Utah played the majority of the game passing it without a build up, and that cost them. If Utah is going to get the best of Portland, they need to play like they want to win. Take chances. Make runs. Hold on to the ball.

Prediction: Utah Royals FC win, 2-1

Utah Royals FC Injury Report

OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left Knee), DF Maddie Nolf (Hip), DF Taylor Lytle (SEI-Left Foot), FW Raisa Strom-Okimoto (Ankle)

QUESTIONABLE: Vero Boquete (Right Ankle)