When: Sunday, August 11, 2019 | 2:00 PM MT
Where: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, WA
Weather: 75 degrees, sunny
Live Stream: Yahoo Sports app & KSL app
Radio: ESPN 700
Okay. We’re reaching the part of the NWSL season where our knees may start to shake more. We’ve said how every game matters now, since we’re past the halfway mark of the season, but these next nine games for Utah Royals FC are super duper important. After a massive 3-0 win vs. Sky Blue FC, Utah Royals FC travel to the state of Washington to face Reign FC this afternoon.
Utah vs. Sky Blue FC 2019 meetings: 1
-June 28, 2019 @ Rio Tinto Stadium.
Score, 2-0 Reign FC
All-Time Series Record: 0-3-1
A win, some Reign, & on the road again
Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Sky Blue FC was a sigh of relief for Utah Royals FC after composing a 0-4-2 record in six games. The win gave Utah some hope after a six-game winless stretch. Utah is still in seventh place, but the gap in points is not as daunting as before. They’re eight points away from first place Chicago Red Stars and five from fourth place, which is held by Reign FC, their next opponent.
URFC enters the game vs. Reign FC with some much-needed confidence after Wednesday’s win. That was important. On Wednesday, we saw glimpses of greatness: Christen Press scored a brace, and the team recorded 23 shots, the most ever in club history. And that is something they must keep on as they begin a three-game road stretch. Reign FC has the potential to give Utah trouble, though. They have in the past, and URFC’s record vs. the Seattle-based team is not impressive. URFC enters Sunday’s match with a 0-3-1 (1 point) all-time record against Reign FC, with the last match resulting in a 2-0 loss.
Clean Sheets: 7
Goals Conceded: 14
Goals Allowed Per Game: 0.9
Total Shots: 143
Shots on Target: 69
Goals Scored: 14
Leading scorers: Amy Rodriguez - 6 goals; Christen Press - 5 goals
Keys to winning:
- Continue creating chances. This is what the game of football is all about. Utah has a solid defense, but the struggle has always been the attacking third, and it’s all about creating chances, which is what Utah did well against Sky Blue FC.
- Give the ball to Christen Press. I said this last time, and I’ll say it again. Press knows how to score goals. She has five goals goals in five games.
Utah Royals FC Injury Report
OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI-Left knee), Taylor Lytle (SEI-Left foot), Becca Moros (Right Leg), Kelley O’Hara (Left Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE: Mandy Laddish (Concussion),
Here comes the Reign
Record: 7-3-5 (26 points, 4th place)
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Clean Sheets: 6
Goals Conceded: 14
Goals per game: 1.0
Total Shots: 171
Shots on Target: 68
Players to Watch: Bethany Balcer - 3 goals, 1 assist
Casey Murphy - 36 saves, 9 goals against, 5 clean sheets
The last time Utah faced Reign FC, it was a 2-0 disappointment at the RioT on a Friday night in June. Since then, and despite having the largest injury list, Reign FC have done well in keeping themselves in contention. They’ve already defeated their Cascadia rivals, Portland Thorns, twice and picked up another win against Houston. Their two defeats, however, have come against top teams Chicago and North Carolina. Utah faces a different Reign FC team from the one they saw in June, but head coach Vlatko Andonovski has adapted and created a game plan that still sees Reign FC getting key wins.
Reign FC Injury Report
OUT: Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – Knee), Taylor Smith (SEI – Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI – Right Achilles), Jaycie Johnson (SEI – Right Knee), Scout Watson (SEI – Concussion), Jessica Fishlock (SEI – Left Knee), Lydia Williams (45D – Left Ankle), Stephanie Cox (Right Calf), Rumi Utsugi (Left Calf), Megan Rapinoe (Left Achilles), Kristen McNabb (Left Soleus)
Reign FC always makes me nervous. Laura Harvey tends to struggle against Vlatko Andonvoski’s game plan (see 2014 & 2015 NWSL Championship for reference). But Reign FC is not the strongest team right now. Sure, they know how to win, but I think URFC is the stronger team this time around. Utah wins 1-0 because Christen Press will score the game-winner. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.