BOYDS, Md. — After Utah Royals FC scored two goals in a game for the first time this season last week in a win over the Orlando Pride, the talk was that the attack had finally gotten going.
In reality, though, one of the goals was on a penalty kick, and the other came as the Pride fell asleep on a free kick. Said another way, neither of them came in the run of play.
On Saturday night in its 2-0 loss to the Washington Spirit, URFC once again didn’t get anything going offensively in a matchup of the two teams atop the National Women’s Soccer League table. It was the first time URFC was held scoreless in 2019.
While URFC had scored in the first six games of the season before Saturday, it has now been nearly three contests since it has scored in the run of play, as its lone goal against the North Carolina Courage on May 19 came in the seventh minute.
Saturday night, two main factors led to URFC getting just seven total shots off compared to 15 for the Spirit. First, Washington was pressing high for most of the night, and the road side had a difficult time breaking the press and getting the ball upfield.
Problem No. 2: As has been a challenge throughout URFC’s existence, once the ball did reach midfield and beyond, there were too many unforced giveaways and not enough connecting passes.
In the 22nd minute, URFC was once again sped up in its defending third as it had been numerous times already to that point, which led to a turnover. After a series of Spirit passes against a URFC defense that was playing soft, former BYU star Ashley Hatch got the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, dribbled around for a few moments and then rifled a tough shot past URFC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
After halftime, URFC’s attack started looking better than it had in the first 45 minutes, but in the 69th minute, Washington’s Andi Sullivan took the ball from URFC’s Erika Tymrak near midfield and URFC was exposed near goal. A shot from Hatch went off the post, but Dorian Bailey was right there to clean it up for another goal and URFC’s comeback bid died.
URFC entered Saturday best in the NWSL with just three goals surrendered, but the Spirit now are tops in that category, having given up just four. URFC is tied for fifth in the nine-team league with seven goals scored on the season.
The club will have two weeks to think about Saturday’s loss, as the NWSL will take a break for the group stage of the World Cup, which begins June 7.
URFC will return for a June 15 home contest against Sky Blue FC at Rio Tinto Stadium.