SALT LAKE CITY — Saturday night’s road game against the Chicago Red Stars was always going to be a challenging one for Utah Royals FC.
Both sides played without a bunch of United States Women’s National Team players as they began their World Cup victory tour with a game against Ireland in California on Saturday, but the Red Stars still had arguably the best goal-scorer in the world available, Australian Sam Kerr.
Kerr made her presence known early, scoring in the fifth minute, and without USWNT players Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara, URFC couldn’t get anything going. Former URFC player Brooke Elby sealed the deal with a late goal and Chicago won, 2-0.
The defeat marked URFC’s second straight, and the team hasn’t won since June 15.
Incidentally, Kerr’s goal essentially came on service from teammate Casey Short, who many thought should have been on the USWNT World Cup team. In the fifth minute, Short sent a ball into the area, and Kerr beat URFC rookie center back Gaby Vincent (who replaced the USWNT’s Becky Sauerbrunn in the lineup) to it.
Kerr rifled a header at goal, and the shot was initially saved by URFC goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, but Kerr regained the ball and easily tapped it into the net with Barnhart out of position.
Then in the 85th minute, Elby, who was traded to Chicago last summer as part of the deal that brought URFC Press and the now-retired Sam Johnson (who has relocated to the Windy City and posted on social media from the game), put home a ball that was originally saved by Barnhart on a shot from Savannah McCaskill.
With the loss, URFC dropped to 5-6-3 with 10 games remaining in the 2019 regular season.
The team will have to rebound very quickly, as it faces Sky Blue FC on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium. SBFC was the last team URFC beat, although it then lost to the New Jersey-based side on July 12.