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Utah Royals vs North Carolina Courage Preview

The Utah Royals will play the North Carolina Courage for the final time this season, here’s what you need to know ahead of the match:

1.  The Royals are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Orlando Pride, extending their losing streak to three.  Amy Rodriguez scored to put Utah up 1-0 in the 8th minute, but a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Orlando in stoppage time of the first half and shifted momentum for the remainder of the match.  The loss dropped Utah’s record to 5-6-6 with 21 points and kept them sitting in 6th place, two spots and seven points out of playoff position with seven matches to go.

Goalkeeper Abby Smith was injured and subbed for Nicole Barnhart in the second half.  Amy’s goal brought her to 2 goals and 1 assist for Utah, while Katie Stengel still leads the team with 3 goals.

Utah is now 3-2-3 at home.

2.  Head coach Laura Harvey has been frustrated with recent results (and officiating) but says the team is still working as hard as they can to turn things around.  Friday’s match against North Carolina will be the first between these two at Rio Tinto Stadium.  Utah remains the only team that has beaten North Carolina and taken four points off the league leaders this season, getting a 2-2 draw on April 21 and a 1-0 win on June 16.  But Utah will be missing major pieces on Friday night as Christen Press, Amy Rodriguez, and Becky Sauerbrunn have been called up to the USWNT for the Tournament of Nations preliminary squad.  Katrina Gorry has also been called up for Australia but doesn’t report until July 23.  Abby Smith’s concussion on Saturday landed her on the injury list alongside Alex Arlitt (left knee), Makenzy Doniak (left knee ACL), Mandy Laddish (right hip contusion), and Kelley O’Hara (right hamstring).  With call-ups and injuries, Utah Royals have signed Real Salt Lake Women’s club regulars M/F Colette Smith and GK Becca Ritchie.

3.  While Utah will be down three starters, Carolina will be down six as Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jaelene Hinkle, Merritt Mathias, Samantha Mewis, and McCall Zerboni have been called up for the USWNT Tournament of Nations preliminary squad.  Lynn Williams leads the Courage with 8 goals and 4 assists, Crystal Dunn has 7 goals and 5 assists, Jessica McDonald has 6 goals and 4 assists, and Debinha has 6 goals and 2 assists.  North Carolina is 8-0-1 on the road this season, their lone road draw coming on June 3 against Houston.  Most recently the Courage dismantled Sky Blue FC 4-0 in New Jersey, extending their current winning streak to five.
Our coverage of Utah Royals vs North Carolina Courage begins on Friday, July 20 at 8 P.M. with Greg Wrubell and Carla Swensen-Haslam.
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