SANDY — In reflecting on the Utah Royals FC’s first-ever victory last weekend, a 2-0 win over the Washington Spirit, goal scorers Diana Matheson and Kelley O’Hara both expressed happiness, but in the same breath recognized that they and the rest of the club needed to move on from it quickly.
That’s because instead of a week or more until their next contest, URFC would have just three days to prepare for Wednesday night’s tilt against the Orlando Pride at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“It’s always a challenge when you play weekend and then midweek, and we haven’t done that yet, so I think our biggest focus is going to be recovery,” O’Hara said. “Take care of the body, get it ready to go again, ’cause we gotta look to get another win.”
This will mark the first of five Wednesday matches URFC will have on the season, all of which will come on short rest. The Pride also have five midweek games, with this being the club’s second in as many weeks.
“It’s always interesting when you have short turnarounds,” URFC head coach Laura Harvey said after training at Rio Tinto on Monday. “I think it’s even more interesting when the other team doesn’t play (the previous weekend), so I think for us it’s about making sure we get the team right in preparation for Wednesday.”
While URFC hasn’t yet played all of the other eight teams in the NWSL, Wednesday will mark a rematch with the Pride after a controversial 1-1 draw in the season opener March 24 in Orlando.
In that game, Gunny Jonsdottir got URFC off to a blazing start with a goal in the third minute before an incorrect handball call on Becky Sauerbrunn 18 minutes later gave the Pride a penalty kick, which Brazilian star Marta made.
“We dealt with their pressure pretty well, I felt, down there,” Harvey said Monday. “I think we want to control tempo a little bit more than we did in that game, and I feel that we’re in a good position to be able to do that, but every game you play is different. Home and away, travel for them is different than travel for us down there, so I think all those things could come into play as well.”
The two sides enter Wednesday having been on similar trajectories since the opener. Both have scored six goals, with Orlando having conceded six compared to just five for URFC. The Pride is a point above URFC in the standings, however.
On the injury front, URFC will be without Elise Thorsnes for the second consecutive game because of a strained left hamstring, although the rest of the roster is healthy for a contest that could see Harvey heavily use her bench given the short turnaround.
“These games and this league is so transitional and physical that it takes a lot out of players,” said Matheson, who on Tuesday won NWSL Goal of the Week honors for her impressive chip shot in the 66th minute against the Spirit. “You’re pretty spent after 90 (minutes), so for sure our bench is huge. … I’m sure whatever 11 take the field and whoever finishes the game on Wednesday is going to be huge, too.”
Starting time is set for 7 p.m.