It’s game four for Utah Royals FC in the NWSL Challenge Cup as they face a familiar team, the Chicago Red Stars, at least more so for head coach Craig Harrington, who was an assistant with Chicago the past two seasons. Harrington helped coach the Red Stars to a 23-12-13 record with back-to-back playoff appearances, finishing as runners-up in 2019.
The club will look to bounce back from Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to OL Reign and finish in the top half of the standings ahead of the quarterfinal round. Utah hopes to return to the momentum of their first two games, a draw after coming back from a 3-1 goal deficit to earn a point versus the Houston Dash and a 1-0 win versus Sky Blue FC.
Utah Royals FC (1-1-1)
vs. Chicago Red Stars (0-2-1)
When: Sunday, July 12 | 8:00 PM MT
Where: Zions Bank Stadium | Herriman, UT
Live Stream: CBS All-Access
Radio: ESPN 700
Utah vs. Chicago 2019 meetings: 3
- May 3, 2019 - Rio Tinto Stadium
URFC 1; Chicago 0
- August 3, 2019 - SeatGeek Stadium
Chicago 2; URFC 0
- September 28, 2019 - SeatGeek Stadium
Chicago 2; URFC 1
All-Time Series Record: 2-4-0
Head Coach: Rory Dames
Last Year’s Finish: 14-2-8, 2nd overall (lost in NWSL Championship to NC Courage)
Key Players In: Kealia Watt, Rachel Hill, Makenzy Doniak, Julia Bingham
Key Players Out: Sam Kerr, Katie Naughton, Nikki Stanton, Maria Sanchez
Player to Watch: Kealia Watt, Julie Ertz, Yuki Nagasato
Utah: A reflection of last year?
For the first two games, Utah exceeded expectations, remaining unbeaten and holding the number three spot in the tournament’s standings, and with their 3-5-2 formation, focusing on getting numbers up the field in the attack, and the midfield maintaining possession, the team had been successful to score goals.
But something happened on Wednesday, and all of a sudden, Utah looked like the team of old: unable to finish chances, even though there were plenty of opportunities to take the lead.
“I don’t know if it was the heat or just the individual decision making, or the collective let us down. But overall, there were spells in the game where we dominated. One team won and one team lost,” Harrington said after the loss.
So how does Utah move on as it faces Chicago? “I’d like to see us have more courage and belief with the willingness to take things on. Over the last two games when the game speeds up, we just need to do what we worked on,” Harrington said.
Utah will need to create chances against a Chicago team that will likely bring its best 11. So far, head coach Rory Dames has relied heavily on rotation and substitutions, but he will start the players who have earned their spot and will not sub just to sub, Dames confirmed via a Zoom media call on Saturday.
Though Utah is facing a Chicago team who has yet to win a game in this tournament, the Red Stars have a staunch defense that has allowed just one goal the past two games, keeping the North Carolina Courage from scoring multiple goals. Harrington is very familiar with Dames’ game plan, however. This game has the potential to be an entertaining match up due to the familiarity and both teams’ desire to finish the group stage strong.
Utah Royals FC Injury Report
OUT: Desiree Scott (Personal)