Utah Royals FC had their first match of the NWSL Fall Series Sunday afternoon where Utah fell 3-0 to the Portland Thorns.
The match didn’t start without drama though, as prior to kickoff it was announced that Amy Lepelibet would be the interim head coach. This came after an announcement that head coach Craig Harrington and assistant coach Louis Lancaster are on administrative leave of absence.
The match kicked off with some changes from what fans saw in the NWSL Challenge Cup. Tziarra King got her first career start as Utah went back to traditional four man backline, where we had gotten used to a three man backline in Herriman.
The game started relatively slowly for both teams, and no one found the back of the net until the 30th minute. Portland struck first thanks to Simone Charley who slalomed around Michelle Maemone and Kate Del Fava to beat Abby Smith and put the Thorns ahead.
The game headed to halftime with Utah trailing, which lead to two halftime subs. Taylor Lytle and Maemone came out, Vero Boquete and Mallory Weber came in.
Utah still was unable to find much in this game. Utah seemed sluggish and a bit slow, with their best chance coming from King, who shot just a little too high.
More subs came on for Utah as King and Amy Rodriguez came out for Raisa Storm-Okimoto and Arielle Ship.
Utah’s subs did seem to help a little bit, as they found a good look from Aminata Diallo in the 64th minute that tested Thorns keeper Britt Eckerstrom but Diallo was unable to capitalize.
Just as Utah seemed to find their groove a little bit, Portland subbed on Sophia Smith who had a near goal that went just wide minutes after subbing on. Moments after that, she actually found the back of the net off a corner to give Portland the 2-0 win.
It seemed like Utah was able to deal with going down 2-0, but that didn’t last long. Come the 80th minute a sloppy back pass led to Lindsey Horan blocking Smith’s clearance. Ultimately Horan got the ball back into the back of the net off the deflection, giving Portland the 3-0 lead.
From there, Utah wasn’t able to find much. Utah had 15 shots but just three on goal, in comparison to Portland’s six shots on goal. This one ended 3-0 as Utah struggled in their first match back since the NWSL Challenge Cup.
Utah’s next match is Sept. 26 against OL Reign at 1:30 p.m. Mountain.