Welcome to your match thread as the bottom of the table Orlando Pride (0-5-1, 1 point) take on the second place Utah Royals (3-1-1, 10 points). This is the second of three meetings scheduled this season, with the final meeting in Orlando on Aug. 17. This is the Pride’s penultimate game before the start of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Orlando will be without eight international players.
The all-time series between Utah and Orlando is tied at 1-1-2. The last time that these teams met was just a month ago. After a two-match road trip, Orlando returned home, failed to find the back of the net, struggled in the final third, and Orlando Pride Head Coach Marc Skinner spoke after the game about his players needing to be more accountable. Christen Press scored the lone goal, off a deflected shot, that beat Haley Kopmeyer, and Utah won 1-0.
Last year was the Royals’ inaugural season, and Orlando got the better of the newcomers. In the 2018 season opener, Utah and Orlando played to a 1-1 draw. The Royals scored on their first chance of the game. They had an excellent spell of possession and, in the third minute, Diana Matheson put in a cross, and Gunnhildur Jonsdottir volleyed it into the back of the net. Marta tied things up from the spot in the 21st minute, and the game ended 1-1.
About a month and a half later, the teams met again, playing to a 0-0 draw, this time in Rio Tinto Stadium. It was a relatively dull night with no goals and the majority of the action in the middle of the field. Both teams struggled on the attacking end. There were no shots on target in the first half and just three in the second.
While those first two matches ended in draws, the last meeting of 2018 finally saw a winner. On July 14, 2018, there was end-to-end action, and both teams saw chances in front of the net. Utah found an early goal, this time from Amy Rodriguez in the eighth minute, and then Alex Morgan tied it up with a penalty kick just before halftime. In the 52nd minute, a good through ball from Ali Krieger found Kristen Edmonds one-on-one with Utah goalkeeper Abby Smith, who was caught out of position. Edmonds chipped the ball past Smith for the game-winner, and Orlando got its first-ever victory against the Royals.
Still in search of their first win, the Pride travel to Utah for a rematch against the Royals. Orlando hosted the Royals in April and will hope to achieve a better result this time around. This match, as much of the season has been and will be, is heavily affected by World Cup call-ups. Orlando is without eight international players and Utah will miss six.
Orlando is coming off a bye week, but two weeks ago the Pride lost 3-1 to the Portland Thorns at home. Skinner is happy about the bye week and looking forward to what his team can do with the extra rest.
“It has been nice to have the bye week to have a little bit of time to prepare,” said Skinner in a club press release. “When we hit the first week, we had three games of three different types of teams. Now we’ve had a little bit of time to prepare and I want to see how the girls come up in the game and show us what they’ve learned.”
While Orlando had the extra rest, Utah traveled to North Carolina to face the Courage. Rodriguez scored in the seventh minute and it looked like the Royals would beat the Courage. However, Elizabeth Eddy’s 78th-minute goal secured a point each.
With the international players gone, Orlando will look to players like Dani Weatherholt and Carson Pickett to lead the way. Younger players like Erin Greening and Joanna Boyles have stepped up as well. The Pride will be without Boyles though, who has an excused absence, and Kristen Edmonds (left knee) and national team replacement player Alika Keene (right knee) are questionable. Brittany Ratcliffe (left knee), Maddie Nolf (left hip), and Taylor Lytle (left foot) are out for the Royals.
Orlando Pride (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Haley Kopmeyer.
Defenders: Carson Pickett, Morgan Reid, Toni Pressley, Erin Greening.
Midfielders: Marisa Viggiano, Bridget Callahan, Dani Weatherholt.
Forwards: Chioma Ubogagu, Abby Elinsky, Rachel Hill.
Bench: Lainey Burdett, Danica Evans, Alika Keene, Hana Kerner, Taylor Porter, Caitlin Farrell, Kristen Edmonds.
Utah Royals (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Nicole Barnhart.
Defenders: Rebecca Moros, Samantha Johnson, Gaby Vincent, Katie Bowen.
Midfielders: Mandy Laddish, Lo’eau Labonta, Gunnhildur Yrsajónsdóttir, Veronica Boquete Giadans.
Forwards: Amy Rodriguez, Katie Stengel.
Bench: Makenzy Doniak, Michelle Maemone, Abby Smith, Raisa Strom-Okimoto, Erika Tymrak, Mallory Weber, Meghan Cox.
Ref: Karen Abt.
AR1: Deleana Quan.
AR2: Melissa Beck.
4th: Brad Jensen.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT.
Streaming: Yahoo! Sports app (U.S.), NWSLsoccer.com, NWSL app (international).
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go Pride!