UPDATE: Reign FC continue to have their way against the Utah Royals, dominating the Laura Harvey-coached side on the road and earning a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Jess Fishlock and Ifeoma Onumonu. While the three points are positive and critical — propelling the Reign into second — the victory wasn’t without some sad moments. Fishlock left the match in the second half with an unknown leg injury.
Reign FC head into game two of a four-match road trip on Friday night, facing the Utah Royals for the first time this season. Following their first road victory of the year, the Reign will kick off at 7 PM PT at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Both teams sit near the top of the league table, with Utah on 17 points thanks to a 5-2-2 record. The Reign are three points back with a 3-1-5 record.
Reign FC continue to battle injuries, with Morgan Andrews getting added to the list after pulling her hamstring just before last week’s match against Chicago. Jaycie Johnson is out for the rest of the season after re-aggravating her knee. There are two names off the injury list, however. Shea Groom and Darian Jenkins are available for Friday’s match.
For Utah, the significant question is the health of playmaker Vero Boquete. According to our friends at RSL Soapbox, it seems unlikely Boquete will feature.
If Boquete is out, the Reign should have the midfield advantage, as the Royals don’t look quite the same without Canadian Desiree Scott as their holding midfielder. Scott had a solid World Cup — proving she’s still one of the best in her position. Jess Fishlock will look to pressure the Royals holding midfielders — likely Mandy Laddish and Lo’eau LaBonta — and take advantage of any miscues.
What to Watch
- Amy Rodriguez: The Royals forward has been the focal point of the attack — especially with Christen Press away at the World Cup. She’s a smart attacker who makes sneaky runs to get in behind defenses. Against Portland last week, the team couldn’t quite time their balls into her and struggled to get long balls over the Thorns defenders. If they can do both tonight, the Reign are going to be tested.
- Low block: Utah defends with a low block and lots of numbers behind the ball. That means Reign centerbacks will likely have plenty of time on the ball. If they can stretch the Royals defense — using their outside backs to make overlapping runs — they may be able to find some pockets of space. But patience may be necessary. The opportunities won’t come easy.
- Set pieces: The Reign have stolen points from the Royals in previous years on set pieces, a Vlatko Andonovski trademark. Whether corner kick or free kick, look for the Reign to take advantage of their set pieces.
Injuries, Suspensions, International Duty
OUT: Taylor Smith (SEI Knee), Jasmyne Spencer (SEI Knee), Michelle Betos (SEI Achilles), Jaycie Johnson (SEI Knee), Scout Watson (Concussion), Kristen McNabb (Calf), Morgan Andrews (Hamstring)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Megan Rapinoe (USA), Allie Long (USA), Celia Jimenez Delgado (ESP), Steph Catley (AUS), Elise Kellond-Knight (AUS), Jodie Taylor (ENG), Lydia Williams (AUS), Rumi Utsugi (JPN)
OUT: Brittany Ratcliffe (SEI Left Knee), Taylor Lytle (SEI Left Foot), Madeline Nolf (Left Hip)
QUESTIONABLE: Veronica Boquete (Right Ankle)
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: Katie Bowen (NZL), Rachel Corsie (SCO), Desiree Scott (CAN), Kelley O’Hara (USA), Christen Press (USA), Becky Sauerbrunn (USA)
By the Numbers
5-2-2, 17 points (8 goals for, 5 goals against)
Amy Rodriguez: 5 goals | Vero Boquete: 2 assists
Nicole Barnhart: 23 saves, 5 goals against, 6 clean sheets
3-1-5, 14 points (9 goals for, 9 goals against)
Bethany Balcer: 3 goals | Jess Fishlock: 2 goals
Casey Murphy: 13 saves, 3 goals against, 1 clean sheet
30’ - Goal, Jess Fishlock!
35’ - Iffy Onumonu doubles the lead!
45’ - Nearly a third ... but that darn post!
80’ - Nicole Barnhart with a big save.
Utah Royals FC
How to Watch
More info: How to stream NWSL matches in 2019
Join the Discussion
This is your Reign FC v. Utah Royals gamethread. Head to @rovalks on Twitter for real-time updates, or join the conversation in the comments below.