SANDY—On Wednesday night after Utah Royals FC beat the Washington Spirit 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium, head coach Laura Harvey was asked if she was excited for another crack at trying beat the Seattle Reign, her former team, on Saturday.
After all, the two teams played to a 0-0 draw in their first meeting in June and then the Reign won 1-0 on a Megan Rapinoe header off a corner kick in the second showdown in July, leaving Harvey feeling as though her team could have won both.
“I’m really excited to bring them back here,” she said. “I hope it’s 100 degrees.”
With temperatures on Saturday afternoon just shy of triple digits at Rio Tinto Stadium and air quality awful, causing the National Women’s Soccer League to require officials to stop the game twice per half for extended water breaks, Seattle won 1-0 on another header, this time from Jess Fishlock, on the second phase of a corner kick.
It marked URFC’s first loss in four games.
Despite the fact that the Reign entered Saturday leading the NWSL in fewest goals allowed on the season, Harvey was disappointed in her team’s performance offensively.
“My frustration is, the game plan that we had, we didn’t execute until the last five minutes,” Harvey said. “If we’d have done it previously to that, I felt that we’d have caused them more problems, but everything was in front of them and we didn’t turn their back line enough.”
The pregame plan, Harvey said, was to try to find space on the right side of the field and try to play diagonally.
“We worked on it a lot, we spoke about it a lot, spoke about it at halftime, and it took until the 85th minute to even look to try and do it, which, that’s my biggest frustration,” she said.
Although URFC didn’t execute like Harvey wanted, it did get plenty of chances. In particular, Christen Press was aggressive in trying to make things happen playing as center forward in place of Amy Rodriguez as Rodriguez was on the bench until the second half.
“I think actually we had our chances,” Press said when asked about the challenge of trying to score against Seattle’s stingy defense. “In all three games that we’ve played against them, I would say that the fact we didn’t score a single goal is on us.”
Noting frustration that she and her teammates didn’t win by bigger margins earlier this week against the Houston Dash and Spirit, Press felt that Saturday specifically came down to not finishing chances that the team created.
“We had just as many dangerous chances as they did,” she said. “They put one away. Game over.”
In all, the Reign outshot URFC, 10-5.
As for the chance Seattle put away, it came in the 48th minute off a corner kick from Rapinoe. She played it short to Fishlock, who passed it right back to her. Rapinoe delivered the ball into the box, and it was initially cleared, but Megan Oyster gathered it a few yards outside the box on the right side, and delivered a beautiful ball across the box to a gliding Fishlock, who headed it home.
“We did OK to initially defend it, and then not dealing with the second phase is the frustrating part today,” Harvey said.Comment on this story
After a three-game week, URFC will get a bit of a breather before going on the road to face NWSL-worst Sky Blue FC next Saturday, followed by another game against Washington, the second-worst team in the league, four days later. That one will take place in the nation’s capital.
“We have to show that we want it more than they do,” Harvey said. “I think that’s going to be a huge part of it, is they’re playing for pride, and we’re playing for something, and we’ve got to go out there and show that, I think.”