Stingy Defense Helps Utah Royals FC Tie With Portland Thorns
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Utah Royals played the Portland Timbers to a scoreless tie on the road.
While the second-place Royals struggled to have a significant opportunity at a goal, their defense came up big in holding third-place Portland without a goal.
The Thorns’ first and perhaps best chance at a goal came early in the match when Midge Purce fired a hard shot on frame that forced a diving save from Nicole Barnhart. The Utah goalkeeper was able to get her hands on the ball and prevented the early strike by Portland.
It wasn’t just Barnhart, however, who was playing stingy defense. Defender Sam Johnson, who is unrelated to the Sam Johnson on Real Salt Lake, made at least three blocks on shot attempts from inside the box by Portland.
After taking a 0-0 tie into the locker room at halftime, the Royals picked up the offensive aggression in the second half. While Portland had a huge advantage in terms of shots, the Royals ended up putting more on frame in the match.
Utah’s best chance at taking the lead and perhaps the win came in the 63rd minute when Mallory Weber dribbled her way past her defender and fired a shot on net. Unfortunately the attempt landed right in the hands of Portland’s Britt Echerstrom.
Another good chance came for Utah in the 83rd during a scrum in front of the Portland net. Utah’s Amy Rodriguez nearly got her foot on a loose ball, but it was covered quickly, ending the opportunity.
With the tie, Utah remains in second place behind the Washington Spirit in the NWSL standings.
Utah will continue to play without several of its star players. Four of the Royals who are competing in France for the Women’s World Cup have moved on with their teams to the Round of 16.
The Royals are currently representing in the World Cup by Becky Sauerbrunn, Christen Press and Kelley O’Hara on the U.S. national team and also by Desiree Scott, who plays for Canada.
Next up for Utah is a home match against the Seattle Reign next Friday at 8 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The match can be streamed live on KSLSports.com or on the KSL TV app.