Utah Royals FC finally was back home at Rio Tinto Stadium after what felt like an eternity due to a long road trip and international break. Coming into this one, Utah would still be missing Kelley O’Hara, Mandy Laddish and Becca Moros due to their respective injuries in addition to Brittany Ratcliffe and Taylor Lytle’s season ending injuries.
This one started off a little scary for Utah, with Portland coming out on the front foot. Utah had to deal with a lot of pressure right from the start. Luckily for Utah, goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart was on her game and kept Utah in it despite some defensive errors.
After the minor defensive errors and after getting a little further into the match, Utah started to find their groove. Utah’s game plan was seeming to be crossing balls into the box. In the early stages of the game, there were balls in the box regularly, whether it was Becky Sauerbrunn or Lo’eau LaBonta serving it in.
Portland had a good look off the foot of Christine Sinclair in the 18th minute, but once again, Barnhart came up big and saved it for them. After this shot, Portland dominated again for a little while, with Barnhart being forced to save shots against Horan and Heath.
Then after a shot by Portland’s Dagny Brynjarsdottir rang off the crossbar, Utah figured out what they were doing. It took a few minutes, but ultimately, it would be Utah Royals FC captain Becky Sauerbrunn who would find the back of the net first in this match. Thanks to yet another beautiful cross into the box from US international Christen Press, Sauerbrunn was able to redirect the ball on frame and send Utah into halftime up 1-0.
The second half started scarily similar to the first, with Portland dominating and Utah struggling to keep control. Once again, thanks to Barnhart, Utah was able to keep Portland from scoring. A few minutes in, things settled down, and Utah was able to get looks off thanks to Stengel and Press.
In the 65th minute, Rachel Corsie was shown yellow for a bad tackle. Then in the 67th minute, Midge Purce came off for Caitlin Foord. Utah would wait until the 73rd minute to make their first sub, taking off Stengel for Gunny Jonsdottir.
In the 75th minute, Amy Rodriguez got in a verbal argument with Emily Sonnett following a foul that ultimately caused Sonnett to be shown a second yellow. Rodriguez was also shown yellow. This made tempers flare for Portland when just minutes later Lindsey Horan was also shown yellow. In the midst of this chaos, Portland subbed off Ellie Carpenter for Katherine Reynolds.
After the chaos of the Portland yellow cards, things got really tense for a while. Portland was playing very aggressive and were clearly frustrated by something.
In the 87th minute, Portland made their final sub to bring off Hayley Raso for Tyler Lusi. After this, Utah was really trying to slow the game down. The team was playing it safe, not exposing themselves and not attacking too heavily.
Portland out shot Utah in this one by 21 to 7, but was unable to find the back of the net. This one ended 1-0 in favor of Utah thanks to Sauebrunn’s goal. It’s the first time Utah defeats Portland.