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Utah finds 1-1 draw in final home game of 2020

Utah finds a 1-1 draw in the NWSL Fall Series against the Portland Thorns.

2020 NWSL Challenge Cup - Day 6 Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Utah Royals FC saw their second stint against the Portland Thorns end in a 1-1, their second draw in the Fall Series and final home match of the 2020 season.

Despite the new addition of interim assistant coach Nikki Washington, nothing was too surprising about Utah’s lineup for this match. With mainstays Lo’eau LaBonta, Britt Ratcliffe, Amy Rodriguez and Vero Boquete leading the offense, Utah came out on a strong foot.

Utah typically starts games off pretty quick, but this time it took just nine minutes for Utah to find the game’s first goal. Thanks to excellent build-up play from LaBonta, Rodriguez was able to get past Becky Sauerbrunn to find the goal. The goal was Rodriguez’s first goal of the Fall Series.

Utah continued to play well and didn’t get scored on, but it wasn’t without a few close calls. Abby Smith was forced to stand on her head to keep the Royals in this one. There was even a controversial goal-line clearance Smith made to keep the Royals ahead.

Heading into halftime, Utah had lost a little bit of their firepower but was still showing strong in their final home game of the 2020 season. Out of the half, though, things were more of the same. Not great, but not bad.

Then, Christine Sinclair happened. In the 58th minute, the Canadian international got her goal after the Royals backline gave her way too much time on the ball.

Shortly after, Utah subbed on Taylor Lytle for Boquete.

Tziarra King had a few close shots in this game, but none closer than her shot in the 72nd minute that pinged off the crossbar.

The game went back and forth between the teams from there, but no one was able to truly find a good look. Portland had a free kick in the 81st minute but ultimately didn’t test Smith too much.

In the 88th minute, Rodriguez had another good look at goal but Britt Eckerstrom made the save to keep the game level. King also saw a decent half-chance in second half stoppage time, but the shot came off soft and Eckerstrom made a simple save.

Ultimately, neither team was able to find an edge. Utah improved from their previous 3-0 defeat against the Thorns but was unable to get the full three points.

The Royals next match will be Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. against OL Reign.