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Take two: Utah Royals FC, Reign FC to play makeup game with playoff positioning at stake

Utah Royals FC forward Amy Rodriguez (8) dribbles the ball looking to score against the Seattle Reign FC during their match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Friday, June 28, 2019. Silas Walker, Deseret News

Let’s try this again.

In what is the most important game remaining on the National Women’s Soccer League regular season schedule in 2019, Utah Royals FC is set to face Washington-based Reign FC on Wednesday night in the Evergreen State.

It’s a makeup game for a contest that was originally scheduled for last Wednesday but was postponed because heavy rain in Tacoma made the field at Cheney Stadium unplayable.

The two squads a week ago were tied for the fourth and final NWSL playoff spot, and that remains the case, although since last week, the first three spots have been clinched by the North Carolina Courage, Chicago Red Stars and Portland Thorns FC.cushion

The Courage locked up the top seed after beating URFC last Saturday 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium, while the Red Stars and Thorns are still fighting for the second spot and home field advantage in the first round.

Mathematically speaking, URFC, Reign FC and the Washington (D.C.) Spirit are still in contention for the final spot. The Spirit are five points behind URFC and Reign FC but will have four games still remaining on their schedule after Wednesday while URFC and Reign FC will each have just two following their midweek showdown.

In other words, the stakes are even bigger this week than they were last week.

URFC enters Wednesday having lost two straight games, a Sept. 13 contest against the Houston Dash and the North Carolina game.

“We know that the Houston result would have given us a cushion. Getting something tonight would have given us even more of a cushion,” URFC head coach Laura Harvey said after the Courage contest. “Tends to be the way with this team that we like to make things difficult for ourselves. I still believe it’s our hands — if we win our last three games we’ll be in — but the margin of error now is zero.”

Added captain Becky Sauerbrunn: “Everything’s a must-win now.”

There is some good news for URFC. Before the originally scheduled game last Wednesday, the team’s two most important offensive players —forward Christen Press and midfielder Vero Boquete — were listed as doubtful and questionable, respectively, because of injury. Both played last Saturday against North Carolina, however, and neither is on the injury report for Wednesday.

First kick is set for 8 p.m. MT.