The Utah Royals FC might have just reached its lowest point of the season.
At least that’s what midfielder Veronica Boquete intimated after the team’s 2-0 loss to the Chicago Red Stars on Saturday at SeatGeek Stadium.
“Every team during the season you always go through bad moments,” Boquete said. “Obviously this is our bad moment.”
The Royals not only extended their winless streak to six games. The loss against Chicago also marked the third straight game in which Utah has conceded two goals. And in the last five games, URFC has been scoreless three times.
With 10 games remaining in their 2019 National Women’s Soccer League season, the Royals are seventh in the nine-team league standings. And Utah will be on short rest Wednesday when it plays Sky Blue FC at home. Boquete said that game has turned into the most important one of the season.
“Now it’s up to us and up to the players that we have, to show our character,” Boquete said. “We know that we are good footballers and we work hard every day. But that is just not enough. We have to show it during 90 minutes.”
Scoring has never been Utah’s strong suit. Instead, the club has hung its boots on being a stingy defensive team. But in recent weeks, the defense has slipped while Utah created more scoring chances.
The Royals felt Saturday’s game against the Red Stars was an opportunity to get back on the right track. But the opposite happened instead.
It was the same story for the Royals: a game replete with scoring opportunities, but devoid of balls in the back of the net.
The goals for Chicago came on opposite ends of the match. Forward Sam Kerr, who gets out of bed scoring at least one goal, put one away on a rebound in the fifth minute after her initial shot was saved by Royals goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart.
Eighty minutes later, Savannah McCaskill attempted a shot that Barnhart saved. But Brooke Elby was there on the rebound, her strike clipping Barnhart on its way into the goal for the 2-0 result.
The Royals did not get much of anything going in the attack in the first half, mustering four shots to Chicago’s nine. The second half was a different story, at least initially. In the first few minutes, both Katie Stengel and Gunnhildur Jonsdottir had good chances at a goal. Jonsdottir’s was a header off a corner kick that hit the crossbar in the 49th minute.
In the span of about two minutes, Kerr had two clear chances to extend Chicago’s lead before Elby did it herself. In the 64th, she received a diagonal pass in transition from Vanessa Di Bernardo. Kerr’s subsequent shot was saved by Barnhart.
In the 66th, Kerr got a long pass from Danielle Colaprico, putting her with only Barnhart in front of her. This time, Kerr placed her shot wide left.
An equalizer looked inevitable in a 75th-minute sequence for Utah. Jonsdottir’s shot was saved by Red Stars goalkeeper Emily Boyd. On the rebound, Boquete’s shot was blocked. Then Jonsdottir had a good look at the goal, but her shot went wide left.