2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret – Matchday 4
Chicago Red Stars vs Utah Royals FC
Zions Bank Stadium. Herriman, UT
July 12 at 9:00 PM CT
CHICAGO – The Chicago Red Stars will conclude their preliminary round play in the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup presented by P&G and Secret when they face Utah Royals FC on Sunday, July 5 at 9:00 p.m. CT.
Previous Result: Alyssa Naeher had four saves as the Red Stars fell to the North Carolina Courage 1-0 in their previous NWSL Challenge Cup match.
Opponent: Utah Royals FC fell to OL Reign 1-0 in their third game of the NWSL Challenge Cup last Wednesday, July 8th. The game was 0-0 throughout until the OL Reign’s Bethany Balcer scored on a header 35 seconds into stoppage time.
Key Acquisitions: Utah Royals FC had a busy offseason seeing several changes in both player personnel and coaching staff. Utah is led this season by first-year head coach Craig Harrington and his technical staff after the team parted ways with previous head coach Laura Harvey. Harrington takes the helm of a team that saw departures the likes of Sam Johnson (retirement), Erika Tymrak (retirement), and Katie Stengel (trade). The team also traded 2019 Defender of the Year Becky Sauerbrunn to the Portland Thorns in exchange for Elizabeth Ball, as well as signing Aminata Diallo on loan from Paris Saint-Germain. In the 2020 NWSL Draft, Utah selected Tziarra King with the 8th overall pick.
Close Call: Since their inaugural matchup in early 2018, four of the six matchups between the Royals and the Red Stars have been decided by one goal. Additionally, two of their last three matchups featured a game-winning goal in the final 10 minutes of play. In their last matchup back in September 2019, midfielder Vanessa DiBernardo scored late in the first half only for Utah to equalize two minutes later. The game would remain even until the final five minutes of regulation when Yuki Nagasato nabbed the late winner for Chicago in a 2-1 victory.
Crunch Time: This is the final matchup of the preliminary round before the quarterfinals of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup. The Red Stars come into the game with one point in standings which was earned following their 0-0 draw to Portland in their second game of the preliminary round. Utah, who currently sits fifth in the standings following their loss to OL Reign, has 4 points coming into Sunday night’s clash. The quarterfinal round will take place on July 17-18, with two games being played on each day. All of the quarterfinal games will be on CBS All-Access, with international viewers able to watch on Twitch.
Between the Sticks: Chicago and Utah both have rosters that feature two of the best goalkeepers to play in the NWSL. Utah’s Nicole Barnhart entered 2020 holding the league record for most career shutouts and appearances, at 51 and 131 respectively. Chicago’s Alyssa Naeher came into the NWSL Challenge cup second in the league all-time in shutouts (36) and appearances (118), as well as leading the US Women’s National Team to victory in last year’s FIFA World Cup as the team’s number one.