Flying Kiwis – August 6

Screen Shot 08-05-19 at 06.19 PM.JPG

Rosie White – Seattle Reign (American National Women’s Soccer League)

With the Reign still in the midst of a pretty difficult injury crisis and again missing their USA international players, they were going to need a few bonus contributions against the Houston Dash. Contributions from players who maybe haven’t been there that long. Players like Rosie White.

Picked in a central midfield role, harkening back to those good old Boston Breakers days, White gave her team exactly what they needed on a sweltering Texas evening on a live ESPN broadcast. In the 21st minute of her first start for the club, RW played the ball forward into the attacking third and kept running. She found herself in the penalty area as Shea Groom’s shot came in, which was blocked by a defender as Rosie White ducked under it. Loose ball in the box then and that’s where Rosie White is at her tenacious best. Holding off her marker, she thwacked that loose ball into the net for her first goal for her new club.

It’d prove to be the only goal of the game. Seattle were a long way short of full strength going forwards but their defence was in fine form, largely keeping Houston at bay and even when they didn’t keeper Casey Murphy was there to make the saves. They were probably a little lucky that Houston’s finishing wasn’t what it could have been but after a couple defeats in a row this was a crucial win for Seattle. Rosie White would be subbed off with a couple minutes to play. She had one other major chance to score but her shot was saved (to go with a couple other shots on a very busy evening for her).

View this post on Instagram

Reign onnn #reignfc

A post shared by Rosie (@rosiewhite) on

Reign FC: “White scored in the 21st minute. A Shea Groom shot from the top of the penalty area was blocked and White tussled with defender Ally Prisock for the ball, before breaking free and firing into the top net past Jane Campbell to score in her first start for the club. White was named Reign FC’s Player of the Match, taking four shots with three on target, including her goal. Playing as a midfielder, White completed 14 of her 18 passes.”

Up Next: Home to Portland Thorns on Thursday at 2pm (NZT)

Hannah Wilkinson – Sporting CP (Portuguese 1A Divisão)

The sheer determination of Hannah Wilkinson to get back to fitness in time for the World Cup was incredible and even more so because she had to do so much of the rehab herself as the injury came towards the end of her contract with Vittsjö in Sweden. But the World Cup has come and gone now so it’s back to the day in and day out… and Sporting Lisbon is the club that’s come to the table.

Wilko 2.0: “I am very excited to be in such a big club in Portugal. It is amazing and very professional. I hope to improve a lot by playing alongside fantastic athletes and in such a good club. I expect nothing but success.”

Sporting are one of the glamour clubs of Portugal, though women’s footy in that country isn’t on the same trajectory yet. But with the way the game is soaring in Europe these days it’s only a matter of time. The Portuguese league is pretty skewed but Sporting are one of the two super teams along with Braga (Benfica are hovering too) and clearly Sporting are restocking the shelves in order to make up for having missed out on the title to Braga last season by just three points. Braga had a +102 goal difference, Sporting had a +72 goal difference… sign a couple strikers then, aye?

Sporting CP previously won the league in both 2016-17 and 2017-18 after reactivating the team for the first time in more than twenty years. Just a few days before they added Wilko, they also signed Brazilian international Raquel Fernandes. Last season they only had three foreign players so expect a squad full of locals once again… which should hopefully mean that Wilko was a priority signing and she should get plenty of footy and, given the disparity in the league, plenty of goals too – which was always the main frustration in Sweden that she didn’t score as many goals as she should’ve (albeit for a team in the lower half of the table). Plus, you know, she gets to live in Portugal now.

Up Next: New season starts next month

Sarpreet Singh - Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga)

The upward spiral of Sarpreet Singh’s last couple months is the kind of yarn that you have to stop and pinch yourself every now and then just so you don’t lose the context of how incredible it has been. For every subsequent opportunity he’s been offered by Bayern, he’s taken it and been rewarded with more. That means that with each new week he’s taken it to new and exponentially greater levels.

Last week saw the Audi Cup, a four team tournament that takes place over back to back days (semi and final) that Bayern hosted at their enormous Allianz Arena. Two games which marked the final opportunities for Niko Kovač to get his team ready to go before the German Super Cup.

First off was a comprehensive hiding dished out to Fenerbache, Bayern winning 6-1. That saw a pretty much first choice eleven begin things (prioritising the extra day’s rest over the tournament result, understandably) and Singh was given half an hour off the bench to work his wonders. Even just being a part of that squad at all was impressive since it had been expected he’d have long since joined up with the reserves by now and yet here we are. Thomas Muller scored a hatty and the other goals were provided by Renato Sanches, Leon Goretzka, and Kingsley Coman. Decent hit out.

But for Sarpreet Singh the real hype came when he was named to start for the first time in the final of that Audi Cup against Tottenham Hotspur. Not only that but he played the entire game, not shy to have a crack at goal a couple time, and he even got called upon when the game went to a penalty shootout. Stepping up knowing that he needed to score to avoid defeat and he did the business. Remember Singh was one of the scorers for the New Zealand U20s in their World Cup shootout defeat against Colombia a couple months ago too. If only the Phoenix had utilised that skill while they still had the chance, aye?

Then that news was followed by the biggest development that he’s had yet… named amongst the squad for the Super Cup against Borussia Dortmund. One of a couple youngsters to earn that promotion and while it felt like another crazy moment for him, it was definitely earned. Sarpreet Singh played in all five preseason games for Bayern over the USA tour and the Audi Cup. Only eleven players in this team can say that and all of them are first teamers and seven of them started in the Super Cup. It’s worth saying that the game against Tottenham was a largely rotated team, with only three players starting that and the Super Cup a few days later (and none of them playing more than an hour of this one), as well as three young dudes featuring who hadn’t even been a part of the USA tour, yet even still it was a fresh milestone for Singh at this club.

Singh was named on the bench there as Dortmund won out 2-0. An unused sub, wearing a new jersey number of 28. Bayern dominated a lot of the ball and they found themselves in good areas but were unable to either convert that possession into chances or to take advantage of the chances they did manage, meanwhile Dortmund played like lightning on the counter attack. Jaden Sancho set up one goal before scoring another (Paco Alcacer with the first goal) and that was the first bit of silverware for the German season going the way of Dortmund. Which, by the way, shows how ruthless this club can be because that’s enough to already have Niko Kovač under a bit of pressure.

Which is not what we want to see for Sarpreet Singh. Niko Kovač has emerged as his biggest fan all of a sudden, talking him up to the media and keeping him around this first team squad as long as he has. Wynton Rufer’s even dropped a little hint that Singh has been told he’s going to be a permanent first teamer already but we’ll await proper confirmation of that delightful nugget. Each opportunity he’s given, he takes and earns another. What that means for his future is a matter for its own article but regardless… damn, what a week.

Up Next: Bayern’s next game is a cup tie against a lower league oppo… a chance for an official debut, perhaps? It’s Bayern away to Energy Cottbus on Tuesday at 6.45am, first round of the DFB Pokal (NZT)

Nik Tzanev – AFC Wimbledon (English League One)

It’s been a long time coming for Nik Tzanev. In a couple years at Wimbledon he’s had to mostly bide his time with the youth team but he had snuck onto the bench on seven occasions for the senior side in the previous two seasons (five of those in cup competitions) plus he signed a new contract extension a year ago. Back in January he spent a brief loan spell at non-league Potters Bar Town for some senior football and he did well enough there that the loan was extended until the end of the season. Coming back for this new season he seems to have stepped up the ranks to the second-gloveman’s role with the top team after Joe McDonnell was released at the end of his contract (although they’ve just re-signed him) while loanees Aaron Ramsdale and Tom King have both gone back to their parent clubs. Which left the goalie situation wide open. In has come West Ham young’un Nathan Trott and he’s wearing the number one jersey… but a groin injury meant he wasn’t available for the opening game of the season and you already know what that meant.

So Nik Tzanev finally made his League One debut for the Dons, a game in which they fell 2-1 to Rotherham. Clark Robertson scored an 84th minute winner for the visitors after Joe Piggott (WIM) had cancelled out Freddie Ladapo’s (ROT) first half strike. A bit of a rough result but Rotherham were the better team as they begin their quest for promotion having dropped down from the Championship last season. Big raps for keeper Nik from the gaffer though…

Wally Downes: “I though Nik was terrific. He came in and he was commanding. He made a great save early on and a good save towards the end. His kicking was terrific and I was really pleased for the boy. We knew that Nathan had a slight groin strain. He’s had a scan and the West Ham medical people are looking at it. We will go further forward next week.”

London News Online: “Were it not for the cat-like reflexes of Tzanev, the hosts would have found themselves behind inside 10 minutes. Rotherham’s record signing Ladapo met a superb cross with a firm header from point-blank range which Tzanev somehow kept out.”

Up Next: Fleetwood vs AFC Wimbledon, 2am on Sunday (NZT)

Abby Erceg – North Carolina Courage (American National Women’s Soccer League)

It’s a new month and that means we continue our monthly tradition of peeking at the NWSL Team of the Month and seeing Abby Erceg’s name there. At this point it might as well just be a permanent thing, although July’s inclusion was an important one because it came after two months in which Erceg wasn’t considered as she was away at the World Cup. But prior to that she’d made five TOTM’s in a row – which in the third year of this award being a proper thing means she’s only three behind Sam Kerr’s record of nine selections (which she also adds to basically every month).

NWSL: “Erceg and the North Carolina Courage went 2-1-0 in July, helped by Erceg’s 84% passing rate and 44 clearances. The New Zealand defender has played 900 minutes in 10 games so far this season.”

The quest for August’s TOTM selection needed a 24 hour delay as rotten weather saw the game postponed (we’re talking some seriously torrential rain here)… but they came back out the next day to get it done. Home against Washington Spirit. North Carolina were without their USA internationals since US Soccer wasn’t content with gutting it’s league during the World Cup and it’s preparation, rolling on regardless with only a one-week bye during the group stages, but now they’ve put the USA squad on a victory lap tour to celebrate their World Cup title with a bunch of friendly games because obviously that’s way easier than just giving them financial bonuses that reflect their value, aye? Pay the damn women, folks.

Lucky for the Courage they’re still stacked with internationals so they didn’t have to worry too much… though it did mean more inconsistency at centre-back next to Erceg. So maybe with so many changes from week to week lately it should have been expected that they’d be below their best. 24 minutes in NCC got a huge boost as Paige Nielsen was red carded for dragging back Debinha when through on goal, perhaps an excessive punishment but it was a goal scoring opportunity. Yet playing against ten women they struggled to force the break through. Kristen Hamilton continued on her sizzling form but couldn’t hit the back of the net. It was beginning to look like a frustrating afternoon… until Debinha found a pocket of space in the box after a nod back header from Julia Spetsmark and she lashed it into the roof of the net with less than half an hour remaining. Nice to see Abby Erceg playing a part in the goal, stepping up into acres of space from defence to advance the play.

Yet having worked so hard to get the lead, they nearly threw it away with a sloppy finish to the game and keeper Stephanie Labbe was essential to preserving the clean sheet, and with it the victory, with four crucial saves in the last quarter of an hour. NCC held on for a 1-0 win and their eighth straight win over Washington. A massive three points though because with Portland (who they play next week away from home) could only draw with Sky Blue – putting the Courage clear in first place on the table by a single point.

Hey and check it out, Abby’s got herself a mural. This was painted in North Carolina by local artist Taylor White, with four stars of global women’s footy being represented to celebrate the upcoming International Champions Cup (which NCC won last year). The four footy players are: Steph Houghton (Manchester City & England), Abby Erceg (North Carolina & New Zealand), Wendie Renard (Lyon & France), and Amanda Sampedro (Atletico Madrid & Spain). No idea why the local telly news thing below says ‘Team USA’ players when none of them are Americans… but what did you expect from that lot, really? There was a photo of the NCC team in front of the mural in a previous Flying Kiwis but this clip gives a much better look at the art itself so have a geeze.

Screen Shot 08-05-19 at 01.46 PM.JPG

And here’s a bit more enjoyable off-field content. Shout out to the great city of Whangarei.

Up Next: Portland Thorns vs NCC, Monday at 7am (NZT)

Andre De Jong – AmaZulu FC (South African Premier Soccer League)

Things could have started a lot better for AmaZulu as they went down 3-0 at home to Bidvest Wits in their opening game of the season. Rough start for sure… but not massively shocking given these two teams are anticipated to be at opposite ends of the table by the end of it. And definitely positive in other ways too because Andre De Jong started in an attacking midfield/second striker role and played the first 72 minutes before being replaced. Consistent with the prominent role he was given in preseason but always a pleasure to see kiwis settling into new clubs. Never a given, that one.

Here was AmaZulu coach Cavin Johnson speaking ahead of the opening game about ADJ’s role:

“Majoro and De Jong have settled very well and we know they understand the importance of rocking the Ingonyama jersey, we will see as time goes on. Andre is definitely a number 10. When I look at him now the league he comes from allowed him to play as a number nine, but here in the PSL he will be good as a second striker. Maybe one match he can play as a targetman.”

He’s got a tough task to live up to the success of Emiliano Tade at this very same club and Jeremy Brockie for SuperSport (not so much Mamelodi Sundowns, tbh) but he’s clearly made enough of an impression to be trusted from day one. He had one decent chance to score here but it was blocked. In reality it wasn’t a game where AmaZulu threatened too much, they were behind after fifteen minutes, 2-0 down by half-time, and 3-0 down ten minutes into the second half. They’ll have a better opportunity next week as they travel to Polokwane City.

As for Jeremy Brockie, there was no sight of him on the bench as Mamelodi Sundowns beat his old team SuperSport 2-0 to begin their season nicely. His situation remains unchanged, he’s training with the lads but sitting down near the bottom of the depth chart and unlikely to feature too much. He has until the end of August to secure a move away and chances are something will still happen on that front yet.

Up Next: Polokwane City vs AmaZulu, Sunday at 1am (NZT)

Dan Morgan – Maritzburg United (South African Premier Soccer League)

Meanwhile it was too soon for Dan Morgan (and Micah Lea’alafa) to feature for Matirzburg as they went down 1-0 away to Golden Arrows in their season opener. Michael Boy Gumede scored for the hosts just after the second half kicked off and it was the only goal. A few of their new signings did feature but Morgan and Lea’alafa had already been declared as doubtful by the gaffer Erik Tinkler in his press conference a day or two beforehand. Morgan did apparently have quite a prominent role in preseason though, and his versatility should see him get opportunities sooner rather than later.

Earlier in the week the club unveiled all nine of its incoming transfers and the manager spoke briedly on each individual one of them. Here’s what he had to say about his NZ Premiership recruits…

Erik Tinkler on Dan Morgan: “He was playing at Auckland City. We watched video footage of him, and we brought him in to see how he would adapt to the South African environment. We’re very happy to have him, he’s a left-back who can also play on the wing, and who is very good on set piece delivery.”

Erik Tinkler on Micah Lea'alafa: “The first Solomon Islands professional footballer ever - we were impressed with the videos, a lot of pace and speed and he’s impressed since arriving here, so we’re very happy to have him. He can play as a striker, as a withdrawn striker, or wide, a lot of versatility.”


Up Next: Home vs Highlands Park on Saturday at 6am (NZT)

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

See that? Just Chris Wood scoring a preseason hatty against Nice. He’s now polished off his preseason with nine goals in seven games and if you’re keen on more of that chat then check out the specific player preview we’ve given him over here…

Also, here are some quotes from after that Nice game. Old mate’s fired up for the new term.

Chris Wood: “Hopefully there’ll be a couple [hat-tricks] in the season. That would be lovely, but ultimately we are just going to work hard as a team. We are doing that so far, so here’s to a good campaign. It’s just nice to be scoring goals and putting in performances like that as a team. It’s very pleasing. It’s nice they are going in, but ultimately it is pre-season and we are getting our fitness and sharpness in the matches. We’re looking good and it’s good building up to the season because it’s only around the corner now. It shows that we’re on the right track, which is all it is at the moment. We’re on the right track and we need to keep going. We have a tough game on Saturday and then it starts all over again. It’s going to be tough – the first game always is – but we’re looking forward to it.”

Up Next: 2am on Sunday morning it’s Burnley vs Southampton (NZT)

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

A few weeks back League Two was looking like one of the undercover places to be for the Flying Kiwis crew but the more things change, the more they stay the same and come week one it was only Steven Old hoisting the flag aloft for Aotearoa. Max Crocombe has left Salford City to join Brisbane Roar to compete for the starting gig there in the A-League, while Clayton Lewis is still two weeks away from possibly returning to the park for Scunthorpe United after he suffered an injury in preseason. A poorly timed injury for sure, this being the final year of his contract and all. Hopefully he’s still as prominent in the squad when he gets back as he was towards the end of last season. Scunthorpe lost 2-0 at home against Swindon Town in game one so they could’ve used him.

But anyway, Steven Old. Ninety minutes at CB reviving his partnership with Sam Lavelle. Got a yellow card in there for a 56th minute foul. Lost 2-0 at home against Grimsby Town. Pretty much a normal game for Morecambe then, picking up where they left off for most of last season. Good to see him still considered first choice.

Up Next: Back to back games away to Mansfield, first on Sunday at 2am in the league and then the following Wednesday at 6.45am in the first round of the League Cup (NZT)

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Two things happened for the first time this season as Sonders took on FC Copenhagen:

1)      SønderjyskE lost, going down 2-1 to end their unbeaten start, conceding in the second minute of the game and then scoring in the second minute of the second half, only to concede what proved to be the winner two minutes after that.

2)      Marco Rojas was not involved in a substitution with Eggert Johnsson.

Rojas and Johnsson have subbed in or out for each other in the first three games of the season but this week Rojas was back amongst the starters in that midfield three and when he was subbed off in the 68th min (some things still don’t change and Rojas playing less than 70 mins is one of them) it was Victor Ekani who came in. First app of the season for the Cameroonian midfielder. But yeah, they weren’t able to find a way to equalise against the same team that knocked Greg Draper’s TNS out of the Champions League qualifying last week. The best team won. Coppers were all over this highlights package.

Up Next: Home vs AGF on Tuesday at 5am (NZT)

Nikko Boxall – Viborg FF (Danish Division 1)

Meanwhile in the first division it’s been a perfect start for Nikko and the lads. Two wins from two to start the new campaign and they’re yet to concede a goal, beating Roskilde 3-0 before downing Hvodovre 1-0 this week. They needed all of the ninety minutes to get it done though. More in fact, as the winner came in the second minute of stoppage time. Big drama.

Not a pretty game then. This might be a bad google translation but the Viborg website called it a “no-sex” football match, which sounds like one of those wonderful European phrases that we’re missing out on. Viborg did have the ball in the net in the first half but Mikkel Agger’s goal was disallowed for an offside in the build up. Frederik Brandhof scored the one that counted, turning in a header from a deflection from an off target shot from the rebound of a free kick that hit the defensive wall. Sometimes it’s just one of those days. You’ll be pleased to know that Nikko has played all 180 mins so far.

Up Next: Jammerbugt vs Viborg, Danish Cup, 4.30am on Wednesday (NZT)

CJ Bott – Vittsjö GIK (Swedish Damallsvenskan)

Vittsjö had been playing great footy before the World Cup interrupted things, losing just one of six games leading into that two month midseason break. And despite having four games in two weeks since things resumed (a pace that won’t let up for a little while yet) they’ve simply picked up where they left off. A 4-2 loss to Göteborg wasn’t the ideal way to get back into action but in fairness they didn’t have CJ Bott for that one (remember she broke her arm in the second game of the World Cup). She was back as a sub for the next two games, unused in a 3-0 win over Kristianstad before making her comeback as a 63rd minute sub against Rosengård – a game which they were able to hang on for a 0-0 draw in… not too shabby given Ali Riley’s old team are top of the ladder in the Damallsvenskan.

And now this weekend Botty used the occasion of a trip to relegation zoned Limhamn Bunkeflo for her first start since the World Cup and it was a lovely day all around. Michelle De Jongh scored a second half double while Clara Markstedt added one in between for a 3-0 victory which has Vittsjö absolutely soaring on the ladder – hanging out in first place but third on goal difference. Rosengård have a game in hand too… but for a team that’s usually chilling out trying not to get relegated this is nose-bleed territory. Highlights of the Limhamn game right here, you’ll be able to recognise CJB pretty easy by the cast on her arm.

Up Next: Same team, it’s Vittsjö vs Limhamn Bunkflo at midnight on Sunday in the home fixture this time (NZT)

Ryan Thomas – PSV Eindhoven (Dutch Eredivisie)

It’s been slow progress back from that knee injury that Thommo suffered almost a year ago. Even after missing the entirety of last season after signing for PSV, he still wasn’t ready to take any part in preseason as he trained away from the main group. But it seems his necessary exile is over now, finally ready to get back to unlimited football training… although they’re starting him off with the U19s to begin with just to ease him back in. He’s missed a lot of time so it all makes sense. Last thing you want is to skip a step out of impatience and get hurt again.

Up Next: Keeping it moving

Max Mata - Nõmme Kalju FC (Estonian Meistriliiga)

Oh what’s that? Max Mata scored a hatty for Nõmme Kalju this weekend? Yeah alright then. Mata’s goals came in the 27th, 56th, and 90th minutes as NK bounced back from their Champions League exit at the hands of Celtic to beat Kuressaare 7-2 and emphatically get back to winning ways following three league draws in a row (plus a 7-0 aggregate hiding against the Scottish champs). This was Mata’s first start for the club after coming off the bench three times. Useful way to introduce yourself, aye?

Attention now moves towards trying to get into the Europa League group stage, starting with their a trip to Luxembourg midweek. They’ve got two legs against Dudelange to get through in the third qualifying round, which they fall into after losing in UCL qualifiers when they did, before the final two-legged playoff round which will determine the group stage qualifiers. Greg Draper’s TNS are also in action here, they’ve drawn Ludogorets from Bulgaria.

Up Next: F91 Dudelange vs Nõmme Kalju in Europa League qualifying, Friday at 6am (NZT)

Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)

Mike Boxall’s immensely cute little daughter is fast becoming a cult hero on Flying Kiwis, gotta say it.

Meanwhile on the paddock it was the Portland Timbers versus Minnesota United this week, which should have been a Flying Kiwis Derby except that Bill Tuiloma hasn’t started for the Timbers since returning from injury and in fact he wasn’t even in the matchday squad at all for this game. It appears he didn’t even travel so you’d figure he was meant to play for the Timbers 2 team only that game was postponed since they were playing away in El Paso and… yeah. More important things being prioritised in that city right now. Kia kaha, El Paso.

Tuiloma’s absence left us with no real clash for allegiances here and Boxall and the Loons lived up to those allegiances with a 1-0 victory. It was even closer than it sounds though. Boxall had an uh-oh moment in the first few minutes when a stray pass was picked off by the dangerous Brian Fernandez but after feeding Seb Blanco, the shot went wide.

These two teams are also due to meet in the US Open Cup semi-final in a few days and judging by this one it should be a decent contest. Two tightly-matched teams keen on playing fast on the counter attack… one of those ones that could’ve gone either way or neither and nobody could have been upset. Although when the deciding goal is scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time after a VAR review for handball maybe you’re allowed to be a little upset. Probably a fair call though and that was the only thing between the two sides. Clean sheet for Boxy and the defence too.

Up Next: US Open Cup. Semi-final. Minnesota United vs Portland Timbers. Midday on Thursday (NZT)

Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)

This game almost wasn’t played because of an outbreak of plague in the area. Yeah no kidding, you thought Anthony Hudson was bringing back medieval football to the area at the start of the year well the area soon caught up. But the game went ahead as planned, just with fewer carparks open and they cancelled the fireworks display. Here’s proof that this isn’t a load of nonsense.

What followed was one of the craziest games of the MLS season as Colorado and Montreal, two of the muddest teams in the league, played out a nine-goal thriller. Honestly, it would take forever to go through all the happenings. The Rapids conceded an early own goal, as they tend to do, but somehow responded to win 6-3. It was mental. Kei Kamara scored a hat-trick.

Obviously there was no Deklan Wynne as he’s still out injured and it’s looking like he might not be back any time soon as word on him is non-existent. But also concerning was that Tommy Smith was subbed off with quarter of an hour to go in his 50th MLS appearance complaining of a sore groin. It seems to only have been a precaution (Tim Howard was also replaced at HT as an injury precaution) but one to keep an eye on going forward. This Rapids team is bonkers and we wouldn’t want it carrying on without a kiwi in the lineup.

Up Next: Colorado vs San Jose, Sunday at 1pm (NZT)

Katie Bowen – Utah Royals (American National Women’s Soccer League)

Lacking in USA players again, Utah weren’t quite able to handle the scrap against Chicago. Sam Kerr did what she does to everyone, scoring early before Brooke Elby polished it off late. Katie Bowen started at right back and played a full game but despite a fair number of shots the Royals once again weren’t able to put the ball into the back of the net. Their once impenetrable defence has been leaky lately too and that’s coincided with what’s now a six-game streak without a win and they’re slipping out of top four contention. It’s a bit of a struggle, though Gunnhildur Jonsdottir did hit the crossbar with the scores tied and Utah, to their credit, managed to pile the pressure on in the second half. It just wasn’t enough. Maybe next week?

Up Next: Utah vs Sky Blue, Thursday at 2pm (NZT)

Rate the yarns we serve up on The Niche Cache? Then give a ponder on supporting us on Patreon – which is easily the best way to show you care about what we do

Other ways include whacking an ad whenever you read a good one and sharing the love around

Keep cool but care