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Take 2: Utah Royals FC @ Reign FC match preview

Utah Royals FC return to Cheney Stadium to face Reign FC for the third and final time for the 2019 regular season. For real this time.

Nikita Taparia

Match Details

Utah Royals FC (9-8-4)
@ Reign FC (8-6-7)

When: Wednesday, September 25 | 8:00 PM MT

Where: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, WA

Weather: 65 degrees, sunny

TV: KMYU (Delayed)

Live Stream: Yahoo Sports app, KSL app, NWSLSoccer.com

Radio: Eagle 101.5

This feels like déjà vu, that feeling that one has lived through the present situation before, especially writing this match preview again. Yehno? A week ago, the talk was on how whoever won this game would likely be in the playoffs. That’s still the case this week. Utah remains in the fourth spot, thanks to Sky Blue FC for defeating Reign FC on Saturday. URFC is still tied with Reign FC with 31 points, but due to the tiebreaker of goal differential against the Reign, Royals FC has the edge. This means that the winner of Wednesday’s matchup will take sole possession of fourth place. Dun, dun, dun...

Utah vs. Reign FC 2019 meetings: 2
-June 28, 2019 - Rio Tinto Stadium
Reign FC 2; URFC 0
-August 11, 2019 - Cheney Stadium
URFC 3; URFC 1

All-Time Series Record: 1-3-1

For Utah, no more setbacks allowed. No, for real.

Utah enters Wednesday’s game on a losing note after back-to-back losses. First, to the Houston Dash, and then to the North Carolina Courage. Utah is 15 points away from first place North Carolina Courage, eight from third place, and 10 points away from the second place spot. The gap in points has certainly widened, so if Utah hopes to make the post-season, their best bet is finishing in the 4th spot (maybe in the 3rd, somehow).

With three games remaining in the season, their fate will be decided in this final stretch. Tonight, perhaps. The schedule does not get easier with games against Reign FC, Chicago, and Houston. Every point matters, though. Should Utah lose one more and Reign FC finish strong, they can start preparing for 2020 instead. Utah cannot allow any more setbacks at this point.

For now, the attention is all on Reign FC, a team URFC beat 3-1 back on August 11, their first win over Reign FC in franchise history. Utah and Reign FC have a win each over the other so far in 2019.

URFC Stats

Clean Sheets: 10
Goals Conceded: 20
Goals Conceded (per game): 1.0
Total Shots: 202
Shots on Target: 99
Goals Scored: 21
Leading scorers: Amy Rodriguez - 8 goals; Christen Press - 6 goals

Keys to winning:

  • Limit mistakes. Utah lost to the Courage because of mistakes that could have been avoided, like giving up a PK and goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart making two uncharacteristic mistakes. It’s too late in the season to be making the kind of mistakes that are going to result in losses
  • Get Christen Press involved. Press has been very limited and has not been able to make the impact she is capable of making. It’s not just scoring goals either. Press can attract defenders that allow for her teammates to be open; she has the speed and talent to be a game-changer.

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 (Right Hip), Makenzy Doniak (Left Foot), Sydney Miramontez (Right Foot)

Reign FC are in the same pickle...

Record: 8-6-7 (31 points, 5th place)
Head Coach: Vlatko Andonovski
Clean Sheets: 6
Goals Conceded: 23
Goals Conceded (per game): 1.1
Total Shots: 239
Shots on Target: 93
Goals Scored: 21

Players to Watch: Bethany Balcer - 4 goals, 2 assists; Darian Jenkings - 3 goals
Casey Murphy - 55 saves, 5 clean sheets, 18 goals against

Since last playing Utah on August 11, Reign FC have won one game, lost two, and recorded two draws. It hasn’t been a good stretch of games for the Tacoma-based team. Still, they have managed to remain as one of the teams in contention for the playoffs, even with a team missing key players due to injuries (see Injury Report below). They will likely present a challenge to Utah, especially if URFC does not play well, like they did against Houston and North Carolina.

Reign FC Injury Report

OUT: Taylor Smith (SEI – Right Knee), Jasmyne Spencer (SEI – Left Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI – Right Achilles), Jaycie Johnson (SEI – Right Knee), Scout Watson (SEI – Concussion), Jessica Fishlock (SEI – Left Knee)

QUESTIONABLE: Bethany Balcer (Right Groin), Megan Oyster (Left Knee)

Prediction

Should Utah get their act together for this game, it’s a 1-0 win.