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Utah Royals FC begin NWSL Challenge Cup vs. Houston Dash

It’s the first game for new head coach Craig Harrington, leading a team with young talent & a veteran core.

SOCCER: AUG 21 NWSL - Utah Royals FC at Washington Spirit Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Utah Royals FC are set to begin their NWSL Challenge Cup journey vs. the Houston Dash, the very same opponent they faced to close the 2019 season, finishing 10-4-10, 6th overall in the league and missing the playoffs again. Oh, what a time that was then. Christen Press was leading the attack (when she was not with the USWNT); Laura Harvey was the head coach; Becky Sauerbrunn was the team captain.

We’ll see a much different team this year, which makes many nervous and even doubt the team’s chances in this one-month tournament. We’ll talk about that soon, but first, some game details and stats.

Match Details

Utah Royals FC (0-0-0)

vs. Houston Dash (0-0-0)

When: Tuesday, June 30 | 10:30 AM MT

Where: Zions Bank Stadium | Herriman, UT

Live Stream: CBS Sports All-Access

Radio: ESPN 700

Utah vs. Houston Dash 2019 meetings: 3

  • May 11, 2019 - Rio Tinto Stadium
    Houston 2; URFC 1
  • September 13, 2019 - BBVA Stadium
    Houston 2; URFC 1
  • October 12, 2019 - Rio Tinto Stadium
    URFC 2; Houston 1

All-Time Series Record: 3-2-1

Utah Royals FC: A team rebuilding

Is Utah Royals FC in a year of rebuilding? How can it not be so? New head coach. New system. Different key players than in 2019.

Key Players In: Aminata Diallo, Tziarra King, Elizabeth Ball, Taylor Leach, Arielle Ship

Key Players Out: Christen Press (DNP), Becky Sauerbrunn, Becca Moros, Katie Stengel

The team is definitely in an important year of rebuilding, even if it is for a month. What’s more, we definitely have no idea how this team will look. New head coach Craig Harrington continues to express his excitement on interviews and says is ready to adapt to whatever his team faces on the field, with a game-by-game approach.

If anything, this tournament gives Harrington an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t, especially without Christen Press, who opted out of the tournament. And if Utah really is wanting to focus on the younger players, this gives Harrington the chance to use those younger players like Arielle Ship, Tziarra King, Brittany Ratcliffe, and Aminata Diallo to name a few.

And let’s not forget, Utah is not full of incredibly young and new players, 20 players from its 2019 roster have returned including veteran players Amy Rodriguez, who scored 9 goals last season, Rachel Corsie, Katie Bowen, Kelley O’Hara, Vero Boquete, Gunny Jonsdottir, Diana Matheson, and Desiree Scott. They are indeed of value to the team in terms of leadership, experience, and understanding the game.

It’s unfair to count this team out, especially when we have not seen their style of play under Harrington. This game versus the Dash will answer many of our questions: formation, starting line up, strategy, etc. At least, it will give us a glimmer of hope or cast despair.

Utah Royals FC Injury Report

OUT: Kelley O’Hara (Left Quad); Mallory Weber (Right Quad); Desiree Scott (Personal Reasons); Aminata Diallo (Mandatory Quarantine)

Perhaps the biggest sense of troubling news is this injury report. These are important players for Utah who will miss this game, and their absence will allow Harrington to test players and adapt without them. But if a team is going to have to adapt, better be it early than in later games, like the knockout stage.