Welcome to your match thread for the second ever match-up between the Orlando Pride and the Utah Royals. The Pride (2-2-2, 8 points) and Utah (1-1-4, 7 points) are currently separated by just a single point in the standings and the winner can jump up the table to as high as second place, depending on results in the Houston and Portland game that starts at 8 p.m.
The only previous time these two teams have met came back in Week 1 of this year. The game ended in a 1-1 draw but Utah came out fast when Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir found the back of the net three minutes in. It was a sloppy game and it was clear that it was early in the season and shorthanded Orlando — missing Emily van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy — needed a penalty kick, which might have been overturned if there was VAR usage, to get anything from the game.
In Week 1, Orlando dominated the stat sheet. The Pride led in shots on goal, total passes, passing accuracy, possession, and duels won, but could not find the back of the net from the run of play. Six weeks later and the Pride are still struggling with the same issue.
Less than 12% of Orlando’s shots have found the back of the net and just 43% of its shots are on target. Leading the way is Sydney Leroux — who joined Orlando from Utah this offseason — with 12 shots and seven shots on target, both team highs. However, Leroux has yet to open her Orlando account. On the other hand, Chioma Ubogagu is the team’s leading scorer, with three goals, has one of the highest passing accuracy marks on the team, and could prevent Leroux from starting with Alex Morgan set to return.
A week ago, Orlando made history by earning its first win against Chicago. Chi got her third goal of the year and Rachel Hill came off the bench to double the Pride’s lead, but it was the defense that played the biggest role on the night.
Utah played on Saturday, will have a short week to prepare, and had a 2-0 scoreline, beating seventh-place Washington Spirit. Kelley O’Hara scored in the fifth minute and Diana Matheson added another in the 65th minute as Abby Smith was forced into making just one save.
Of the Royals’ six goals scored, four of them have occurred in the first 20 minutes of each half. Orlando Pride Head Coach Tom Sermanni will need to get his team to come out of the locker room ready to play and not have a slow start, something that has been a bit of a habit this season.
Both teams have players on the injury report, but none of them should be a huge impact. Utah will be without Alex Arlitt, Mandy Laddish, and Elise Thorsnes. Thorsnes will miss her second game in a row with a left hamstring strain but Katie Bowen should slot right in. The Pride face a similar issue as Monica is listed as questionable. Sermanni might treat it similarly to Morgan’s injury last week and have Monica available but not starting.
Laura Harvey will make sure that Utah comes out hot and puts the pressure on Orlando. The Pride will be on the back foot for the beginning of the match but strong defensive play will be the difference. Ubogagu will get her fourth goal of the year and Morgan her first as Orlando’s defensive efforts will again make headlines in another 2-0 win.
Final Score: Pride win 2-0
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Ashlyn Harris.
Midfielders: Dani Weatherholt, Alanna Kennedy, Emily van Egmond.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Marta, Sydney Leroux.
Bench: Haley Kopmeyer, Kristen Edmonds, Toni Pressley, Rachel Hill, Christine Nairn, Alex Morgan, Poliana.
Utah Royals (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Abby Smith.
Defenders: Rebecca Moros, Becky Sauerbrunn, Rachel Corsie, Brooke Elby.
Defensive Midfielders: Gunnhildur Yrsa Jónsdóttir, Desiree Scott.
Midfielders: Kelley O’hara, Katrina Gorry, Diana Matheson.
Forward: Amy Rodriguez.
Bench: Nicole Barnhart, Katie Bowen, Lo’eau Labonta, Brittany Ratcliffe, Katie Stengel, Sydney Miramontez, Erika Tymrak.
REF: Michael Radchuk.
AR1: John Krill.
AR2: Chris Elliott.
4TH: Kali Smith.
How to Watch
Match Time: 9 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT.
Streaming: NWSLSoccer.com or the NWSL app (outside the U.S.), go90.
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