Utah Royals FC looks to bounce back from ‘blip’ Saturday against Sky Blue FC

Sandy • Utah Royals FC made waves in the National Women’s Soccer League with nine points in its first three games of the season. But in their last three games, the Royals have been able to muster only four.

The Royals have enjoyed sitting at the top of the table twice this season, and are still second with 13 points after their most recent loss to the Washington Spirit. And although they only have one win in their last three games the Royals feel good about they way they played during that stretch, with one notable exception.

“Being realistic, a point away in North Carolina, I’m OK with it. I left [thinking] we could’ve won it, but I’m OK with it,” coach Laura Harvey said this week. “You win at home against Orlando — you should. Away in Washington was, we hope, a blip on what’s been a huge development of this team.”

The loss against Washington was the first time this season Utah failed to score a goal. It was also the first time the Royals didn’t force the issue on an opponent, Harvey said.

The reason for that, Harvey said, could be because the team is “thin.” Six Utah players are on international duty for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She also said several of her current players aren’t playing “anywhere near 100%.” The Royals are also dealing with the two-game suspension of Lo’eau LaBonta.

“I think it just caught up with us a little bit,” Harvey said.

Saturday’s came against Sky Blue FC could be an opportunity for the Royals to get back on track. The side from New Jersey has yet to win a game this season and has only two points. Sky Blue is eighth in the nine-team NWSL, sitting above the Orlando Pride.

“It’s a great opportunity and that’s the good part of soccer — that after a game, you just have another,” Veronica Boquete said. “For this one, we have to wait two weeks. Normally it’s just six days. But we have the opportunity to come back on the level that we had before and just show that the other day in Washington was just a bad game.”

Harvey and Boquete both said being at home should make the biggest difference against Sky Blue. But at the same time, Harvey is looking at the next three games as what she called another “chunk” to the season. The first six games came before a break, and the next three — Saturday against Sky Blue, June 21 at Portland and June 28 against Seattle — are also before a break.

“This is the crucial time of the season,” Harvey said. “These two home games and an away game in Portland I think are really important for us on what we want to build on in terms of the start of the season.”

Boquete said the next three games on the schedule will be challenging, and made a point not to disrespect Sky Blue despite their record.

“It’s going to be tough. Every game is going to be tough,” Boquete said. “We have to be focused on us.”


At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah

Kickoff » Saturday, 8 p.m.

Last meeting » URFC 2, Sky Blue 2 (Aug. 18, 2019, Yurcak Field)

Records » URFC 4-1-1, Sky Blue 0-5-2

About Sky Blue » Only have two points in seven games this season. … Have a goal differential of minus-six. … Currently on a three-game losing streak after tying two consecutive games. … Raquel Rodriguez leads team with two goals. … Imani Dorsey leads team in shots on goal.

About URFC » Tallied just four points in the last three games. … Team feels the break has allowed it to come back with more energy and a chance to refocus. … Forward Amy Rodriguez is the only player with multiple goals. … Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart is tied for first in the league with four clean sheets.