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One more road game (for now): Utah Royals FC @ Washington Spirit match preview

Utah Royals FC wrap up their three-game road stretch. The last stop: @ Washington Spirit.

Nikita Taparia

Match Details

Utah Royals FC (8-6-3)
@ Washington Spirit (6-7-3)

When: Wednesday, August 21 | 5:30 PM MT

Where: Maryland SoccerPlex | Boyds, MD

Weather: 90 degrees, sunny

TV: KMYU

Live Stream: Yahoo Sports app & KSL app

Radio: ESPN 700

Three-game winning streak. Number four in the standings. Back in the playoff picture. Utah Royals FC have turned their season around after a mid-season slump. Remember when we were all a little worried? Oh, how that seemed so long ago. That was then. What matters now is what comes ahead. Utah Royals FC will wrap up their three-game road stretch this week with a stop in Boyds, Maryland with a chance for another three points to keep them in contention for the post-season. It’s the last and final meeting between the Washington Spirit and Utah.

Utah vs. Washington Spirit 2019 meetings: 2
-April 20 @ Rio Tinto Stadium
Score: 1-0 Utah
-June 1 @ Washington
Score: 2-0 Washington

All-Time Series Record: 4-1-0

Utah Royals FC: Back in contention

With a 3-0 shutout over Sky Blue FC, a 3-1 win against Reign FC, and a 2-0 victory vs. the Orlando Pride last weekend, Utah is ballin’! Utah is now in fourth place, six points away from first place Portland Thorns FC, one point from third place, and two points away from the second place spot. Utah is incredibly back in contention. Once counted out by many, defying the mathematical odds, they have shown why they play the game.

Royals FC have a good chance to extend their winning streak to four games, and this game vs. Washington may just add another three points to their record. Don’t count the Spirit out, though. So far, Royals FC and the Spirit have split victories this season with Washington winning the most recent game, taking a 2-0 win over Utah at Maryland SoccerPlex on June 1. The good news is that URFC enters this midweek match with a 4-1-0 (12 points) all-time record against the Washington Spirit, tied for the most victories against a single team for URFC.

URFC Stats

Clean Sheets: 8
Goals Conceded: 15
Goals Conceded (per game): 0.9
Total Shots: 171
Shots on Target: 85
Goals Scored: 19
Leading scorers: Amy Rodriguez - 8 goals; Christen Press - 6 goals

Keys to winning:

  • Don’t conform. The Orlando game was not Utah’s finest performance in their winning streak. Part of that was Orlando making it difficult, but Utah had a few moments of uncertainty, and there were glimpses of the Utah we were used to seeing.
  • Give the ball to Christen Press. I say this often, and I’ll say it again. Press knows how to score goals. She has six goals goals in seven games. But she’s also crafty on the ball and has the speed that can help her zoom by defenders if the ball is placed just right.

So...what’s been happening with the Washington Spirit?

Record: 6-7-3 (21 points, 7th place)
Head Coach: Richie Burke
Clean Sheets: 6
Goals Conceded: 18
Goals Conceded (per game): 1.1
Total Shots: 151
Shots on Target: 65
Goals Scored: 20

Players to Watch: Ashley Hatch - 4 goals, 1 assist; Jordan DiBiasi - 4 goals;
Cheyna Matthews - 3 goals, 2 assists
Aubrey Bledsoe: 60 saves, 18 goals against, 6 clean sheets

Like Utah, the Washington Spirit enjoyed success early in the season, being at the top of the standings. But also, like Utah, the Spirit struggled in the midseason and have plummeted to seventh place, losing six out of their last seven games. Coming into this game, the Spirit enter with a three-game losing streak. The Spirit, like Utah once did a month ago, are now fighting for their season.

Prediction

This is a game that Utah can win. Utah looked shaky the last time these two teams met back in June, a game Utah lost 2-0, but Royals FC were without Christen Press and their major international players. Utah brings a team at full strength to Washington this time around. Royals win 3-0.