SANDY — It’s gut-check time for Utah Royals FC.
Following the team’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars last Saturday, it has been defeated in two consecutive games and four out of its last five, with the other contest being a 2-2 draw with Portland Thorns FC.
URFC has not won since June 15 when it beat New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC in a home game at Rio Tinto Stadium, and it is seventh in the table of the nine-team National Women’s Soccer League.
The good news is that URFC is still just five points out of a tie for the fourth and final playoff spot with 10 of 24 regular-season games remaining.
URFC won’t have much of a break after last Saturday’s game, as it’ll face Sky Blue on Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium in what will be its second of five matches over a span of just 18 days, a stretch that will almost certainly go a long way in determining whether or not the club makes the postseason.
“Now it’s about showing what we have in this team,” Spanish midfielder Vero Boquete said after the loss to the Red Stars. “Every year during the season you have bad moments. Obviously this is our bad moment ... now it’s up to us and up to the players to show our character. We know that we are good football players and we work hard every day, but that is just not enough. We have to show it during the 90 minutes.”
In a post on social media Monday, Boquete’s midfield mate Desiree Scott expressed similar sentiments.
“New week! Gotta dig deep,” she wrote on a photo of the team, adding the organization’s hashtag of #StrongerTogether and #bouncebackability.
URFC should have some more help Wednesday than it did Saturday, as United States Women’s National Team players Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press and Becky Sauerbrunn are expected to be back in the lineup after they missed the game against Chicago since they were playing in the first game of the USWNT’s World Cup victory tour against Ireland in California.
Press in particular, and O’Hara to an extent, should help a URFC attack that played well in two games before last Saturday but once again couldn’t generate enough against the Red Stars without them.
SBFC is last in the NWSL table, but has gone a respectable 2-3-1 since firing head coach Denise Reddy on June 28, who won just once in 33 games at the helm. The second of SBFC’s recent victories was a 1-0 stoppage time win over URFC on July 12.
Wednesday’s contest is slated to begin at 8 p.m. MT.