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Another Friday nights lights: Utah Royals FC @ Houston Dash match preview

Utah Royals FC return to the road to visit the Houston Dash for the first time this season.

Nikita Taparia

Match Details

Utah Royals FC (9-6-3)
@ Houston Dash (6-9-4)

When: Friday, September 13 | 7:30 PM MT

Where: BBVA Stadium | Houston, TX

Weather: 93 degrees, sunny

TV: KMYU

Live Stream: Yahoo Sports app & KSL app

Radio: ESPN 700

Coming off a major win against Portland Thorns FC last week, Utah Royals FC return on the road to visit the Houston Dash for the first time this season. It’s the start of two-game road trip for URFC as the team hopes to continue staying in contention for the playoffs. The stop in Houston is just the second meeting for the 2019 season between the Dash and URFC. The last time both teams met at Rio Tinto Stadium, Houston came away with the 2-1 win.

Utah vs. Houston Dash 2019 meetings: 1
-May 11, 2019 - Rio Tinto Stadium
Houston Dash 2; URFC 1

All-Time Series Record: 2-1-1

For Utah, gaining points is key

Utah enters Friday game on a five-game unbeaten streak, which has kept them in contention for the race for the postseason, but it’s a close one. Holding the fourth place spot in the NWSL standings, Utah is six points away from first place North Carolina Courage, four from third place, and five points away from the second place spot, holding fifth place Reign FC with a one-point lead.

With five games remaining in the season, their fate will be decided in this final stretch. The schedule doesn’t get easier with games against Houston (twice), Reign FC, North Carolina, and Chicago. Every point won and every point loss will indeed matter tremendously.

For now, the attention is all on the Houston Dash, a team who beat URFC back in May. The good news is that Utah holds an edge against Houston. URFC enters Friday’s match with a 2-1-1 (7 points) all-time record against the Dash.

URFC Stats

Clean Sheets: 10
Goals Conceded: 15
Goals Conceded (per game): 0.8
Total Shots: 181
Shots on Target: 90
Goals Scored: 20
Leading scorers: Amy Rodriguez - 8 goals; Christen Press - 6 goals

Keys to winning:

  • Don’t settle. Utah has a history of playing well one game, like beating Portland 1-0 on a Becky Sauerbrunn header, and then completely returning to their old ways of play (lack of urgency, dormant offense, stagnant midfield, overturning the ball) in the next game. It’s too late in the season to do that. Utah must keep the momentum, work to create chances, and play with resiliency. Houston may not be Portland, but every team in the NWSL will make it a tough game.
  • Give the ball to Christen Press (more). I’ll keep saying this until the end of time. Press knows how to score goals. She has six goals goals in nine 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. She’s also a very smart player who can create chances for her teammates. It was her cross off the right flank to Becky Sauerbrunn into the box that allowed for the header goal against Portland.

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), Mandy Laddish (Concussion), Makenzy Doniak (Left Foot)

Scouting the Houston Dash

Record: 6-9-4 (19 points, 7th place)
Head Coach: James Clarkson
Clean Sheets: 5
Goals Conceded: 31
Goals Conceded (per game): 1.6
Total Shots: 190
Shots on Target: 88
Goals Scored: 18

Players to Watch: Rachel Daly - 5 goals; Sofia Huerta - 3 goals, 3 assists;
Kristie Mewis - 3 goals;
Jane Campbell - 54 saves, 31 goals against, 5 clean sheets

Well, Houston does have a bit of a problem. Currently in seventh place, with 19 points, Houston is mathematically out of the playoffs once again. They have yet to make the postseason in their NWSL history. Since defeating Utah back in May, Houston has won three games, lost eight, and drawn three. It hasn’t been the ideal season for Houston, and it will wrap up again on a losing record. They could still give Utah trouble, though, and could easily disrupt Utah’s season if URFC does not play a good game.

Houston Dash Injury Report

OUT: Veronica Latsko (Left Knee – SEI), Kayla McCoy (Left Knee -SEI), Nichelle Prince (Right Knee – SEI)

QUESTIONABLE: Christine Nairn – (Back), Kyah Simon (Right Calf)

Prediction

Utah is definitely the stronger team here, on paper, on recent form and performances.
URFC wins 2-0.