Preview: Spirit hopes to earn three points in road match versus Utah Royals FC

Washington Spirit  |   June 7, 2024
Preview: Spirit hopes to earn three points in road match versus Utah Royals FC Featured Image

Washington, D.C. (06/07/2024) – The Washington Spirit will face Utah Royals FC in match #12 of the 2024 NWSL regular season. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EDT at America First Field in Sandy, Utah and will be broadcast nationally on NWSL+. Fans can also listen to the team’s  local radio broadcast on or the ESPN 630 AM website or app.


The Spirit

The Spirit enters the match in impeccable form having picked up wins in four of its last five matches, including three in a row. Most recently, the Spirit earned a 3-2 victory over Seattle Reign FC at Audi Field in front of a crowd of 11,551 — five of the top 11 all-time Spirit crowds have come this season. All three of the goals came in the first half, marking consecutive matches with three or more Spirit goals in the first half. The Spirit is the first NWSL team to accomplish this feat since 2019.

Goal scorers included Croix Bethune, Andi Sullivan and Ouleye Sarr. Bethune’s goal marked her fourth of the year (after her goal on May 10 at Louisville was corrected to an assist), Sullivan netted her second goal of the year (both by way of penalty kicks) and Sarr now stands alone in third place for the NWSL Golden Boot race with six goals.

Of note, Sullivan’s PK marks the 11th consecutive penalty kick conversion for the Spirit dating back to 2022. Additionally, Bethune’s assist of Sarr’s goal marks eight assists in 11 matches for the rookie midfielder, the quickest a player has reached eight assists in NWSL history. Also, that match was the first in which Bethune logged a goal and an assist in the same contest.

On Saturday, the Spirit will face Utah for the eighth time in team history. Established in 2017 as an expansion side, Utah competed in the 2018 and 2019 NWSL regular seasons and the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup and Fall Series before transferring operations to Kansas City (now the Kansas City Current). In 2023, Utah was granted expansion once more and recaptured the Royals’ team history.

After suffering shutout losses in the first four meetings against the Royals, the Spirit is undefeated (2-0-1) in its three most recent matches. The four shutout losses are the most the Spirit has endured by one opponent in team history.

Look out: The next Spirit goal will bring the season tally to 26, matching both the 2022 and 2023 seasons’ entire goal-scoring total (22 matches). Additionally, the focus for the Spirit stays the same until further notice – strike first and get a lead. When leading at halftime, the Spirit has won every match this season (6-0-0). Furthermore, the team is undefeated in its last 25 matches when leading at half (18-0-7).

Next up, the Spirit returns to Audi Field for a much-anticipated match against San Diego Wave FC. The Wave, featuring Alex Morgan, Jaedyn Shaw and Naomi Girma, will face off against the Spirit for the first time this season. Fans can purchase tickets here.


The Opposition

Most recently, Utah Royals FC fell to Kansas City Current, 0-1. The match was no easy task as the Current is one of two undefeated teams remaining in the NWSL and, with a 7-0-4 record (25 points), the Current sits at second on the NWSL table.

In the first ever meeting between the two clubs, Utah unveiled a brand new 3-5-2 formation, including the debut of Ana Tejada. Tejada, the Royals’ newest signee, comes from Spain where she played for Spanish Liga F side Real Sociedad. The center back signed a three-year contract.

For much of the match, Utah was playing on its back foot and ultimately surrendered the game-winning goal to Kansas City’s Elizabeth Ball in the 58th minute.

At 1-9-1 (4 points), the Royals are firmly in last place on the NWSL Table. The last time the Royals earned a point came on April 27 in a scoreless draw against Houston. The only Utah victory came nearly three months ago on March 22, when the Royals defeated the North Carolina Courage.

The Royals rank 12th or lower in the following categories: goals (14th – 6), assists (12th – 6), shots (13th – 108), shots on target (14th – 36) and big chance total (T-13th – 11).

The previous time these two teams met was on March 31 when the Spirit launched to an early 2-0 lead off goals from Andi Sullivan and Ouleye Sarr. The Royals’ number one overall draft selection in 2024, Ally Sentnor, cut the deficit in half with an impressive long ball goal, but the Spirit held on to secure three points. Despite the Spirit controlling much of the match, Utah out possessed the Spirit significantly and created a number of threats that could have leveled the match.

Other notes out of Utah include the extension of defender Kate Del Fava, who signed a contract extension through 2026 prior to the previous match.

Fellow expansion side Bay FC will be the Royals’ next opponent when the two sides clash on June 16 at 10 p.m. EDT.



• The Spirit owns a 2-4-1 all-time regular season record versus Utah Royals FC. Entering the match, the Spirit looks to earn its first-ever win on the road against Utah, holding a 0-3-0 record in previous road matches.

Croix Bethune leads the NWSL with eight assists this season to go along with her four goals. Bethune is the third player since 2015 to have 12+ goal contributions in her first regular season in the league, joining teammate Trinity Rodman (12 in 2021) and Marta (19 in 2017).

• In the first meeting between the teams this season, Washington earned a 2-1 home win over Utah. Both of the Spirit’s goals were scored in the first half in that match as the team has scored 16 first-half goals this season, the most in either half by any NWSL team in 2024.

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