Utah Royals FC continue their NWSL Challenge Cup journey vs. Sky Blue FC. Utah will look to continue the momentum they set on Tuesday, after coming back from 3-1 goal deficit to earn a point versus the Houston Dash.
Utah Royals FC (0-0-1)
vs. Houston Dash (0-0-1)
When: Saturday, July 4 | 10:30 AM MT
Where: Zions Bank Stadium | Herriman, UT
Live Stream: CBS Sports All-Access
Radio: ESPN 700
Utah vs. Sky Blue FC 2019 meetings: 3
- June 15, 2019 @ Rio Tinto Stadium.
Score, 1-0 Utah
- July 12, 2019 @ Sky Blue FC.
Score: 1-0, Sky Blue FC
- August 9, 2019 @ Rio Tinto Stadium
Score: 3-0, Utah
All-Time Series Record: 4-1-1
Key Players In: McCall Zerboni, Margaret Purce, Evelyne Viens
Key Players Out: Caprice Dydasco (INJ), Carli Lloyd (INJ), Mallory Pugh (INJ)
Player to Watch: Margaret Purce (FWD)
Utah Royals FC, the surprising team of the tournament?
Going into Tuesday’s game vs. the Houston Dash, we recognized that Utah Royals FC was in a year of rebuilding with their new head coach, new system to be an attacking team, and different key players than in 2019.
Rebuilding is not always necessarily a negative, however. It was unfair to count this team out, especially when we had not seen their style of play or determination under Harrington, and we sure saw that on Tuesday. Playing in a 3-5-2 formation, head coach Craig Harrington emphasized that his team was to be on the attacking side.
“I’ve said it all along that we want to be playing attacking minded. So playing 4-5 at the back doesn’t necessarily do that for me. I want to get numbers up the field and give A-Rod a partner that she can play off and for Vero [Boquete] to get combination underneath. I wanted to make sure we had numbers in the midfield to try and dominate the ball. We didn’t have the possession that I would’ve liked, but I think that’s just the adrenaline from the first game where we just wanted to be a bit calmer in possession,” Harrington said.
Utah managed to score first with a Diana Matheson goal in the 35th minute, leading 1-0 and impressing many who doubted the team. Unfortunately, because Utah has never played in a 3-back formation (that I can remember, at least), the extra space gave Houston the counter-attacking opportunities to lead 3-1 by 67th minute, looking like a rough start in the tournament for the team.
But Harrington has also instilled a never give up attitude on the team, being gritty and determined despite what the team faces, even if means coming back from a two-goal deficit. Again, we saw that work and attitude transpire late in the game as Utah scored goals in the 82nd (Vero Boquete) and 89th minute (Tziarra King) for a 3-3 final.
URFC has work to do, of course. On a Friday media Zoom call, Harrington admitted that conceding three goals in the first game was more of positional failure in the back than the formation itself. The team has to be more cautious on transition and be ready for those counter-attacks.
They’ll be to test that formation again and game strategy versus Sky Blue FC, a team hoping to earn three points after their 0-0 draw vs. OL Reign on Tuesday.
Utah Royals FC Injury Report
OUT: Kelley O’Hara (Left Quad); Desiree Scott (Personal Reasons)