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Utah Royals FC’s playoff hopes fading but not entirely extinguished ahead of game against Chicago Red Stars

Utah Royals FC midfielder Vero Boquete keeps the ball from Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, May 3, 2019.
Utah Royals FC midfielder Vero Boquete keeps the ball from Chicago Red Stars defender Arin Gilliland at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, May 3, 2019.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Royals FC’s playoff chances have faded greatly, although there’s still a small glimmer of hope as the club gets ready to face the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday evening in Bridgeview, Illinois.

URFC came out on the wrong end of a 2-1 result Wednesday night against Washington-based Reign FC in a game that had huge postseason implications, as the squads were tied for the fourth and final playoff spot with just three regular season games to go for each heading into that night.

With the loss, which came in heartbreaking fashion by way of a goal from Reign FC’s Jodie Taylor all the way in the 86th minute, URFC now not only needs points out of its final two games, but it also needs help from Reign FC’s final two opponents in order to make the playoffs (there are still multiple scenarios in play that would see URFC make it, although Reign FC now owns the tiebreaker).

Following URFC’s game against the second-place Red Stars, Reign FC will face the third-place Portland Thorns FC on Sunday afternoon. Only one National Women’s Soccer League game will be played from Sept. 30-Oct. 11 as the league observes a FIFA break (league-worst Orlando Pride against the Washington Spirit, which is still in the playoff hunt, on Oct. 5), and then both URFC and Reign FC will conclude their regular seasons on Oct. 12.

URFC will play the Houston Dash that night, while Reign FC will take on the Pride.

“Now we have nothing to lose, so I think just going out there with that mentality, leaving everything out there, just one game at a time now,” outside back Mallory Weber said following Wednesday’s loss.

Added head coach Laura Harvey: “We have to pick ourselves up real quick and focus on Chicago. It’ll be a very different game, I think, than here, but we have to make sure that we play to our strengths and I didn’t think we did enough of that tonight.”

On Saturday, URFC will face a Chicago team that, although it has already qualified for the postseason, still has a lot on the line in what will be its final game of the regular season. Its first-round matchup with Portland is set, but which team ends up with home field advantage is still up in the air, as the Red Stars enter Saturday just two points up on PTFC in the table.

First kick is set for 6 p.m. MT.