The Utah Royals were in Bridgeview, Ill., on Saturday looking for their third straight road victory. Instead, their offense took a wrong turn, getting shut out in a 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars.
With the three points for their victory, the Red Stars moved ahead of the Royals and into fifth place in the NWSL standings. The top four teams advance to the playoffs.
After a scoreless first half, Chicago scored twice in an eight-minute span in the second half.
Katie Naughton got the Red Stars on the board in the 62nd minute with a header from the center of the box into the top left corner of the net. Chicago’s Danielle Colaprico assisted on the play.
Vanessa DiBernardo doubled the lead in the 70th minute when, after an assist from Sam Kerr, her right-footed shot from the center of the box found the bottom left corner of the net.
The Royals had the edge in possession, 55.5 percent to 45.5 percent, but were outshot 16-11. Chicago had twice as many shots on goal, six to Utah’s three.
The Royals entered the game with some momentum, coming off last week’s impressive 1-0 victory at league-leading North Carolina. Before that, Utah was a 2-1 winner at Sky Blue FC.
The Royals had won three of four games before Saturday but didn’t figure to have an easy time of it against the Red Stars. When the teams met earlier this season in Utah’s home opener on April 14, the Red Stars spoiled the festivities with a 1-0 victory on a goal by Colaprico.
Utah will have one more chance to break through against Chicago in the regular-season finale on Sept. 8 in Sandy. For now, the Royals will have to concern themselves with a short turnaround. They play host to the Seattle Reign at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium.