The first matchup of day two of the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, did not disappoint in the slightest. The Utah Royals and the Houston Dash put on a thrilling contest, which saw 6 goals scored by five different players, ending the game in a tie of 3-3. There were a few moments of shakiness from both keepers, and teams. Utah’s playing formation caused Gunny Jonsdottir to get beat a couple of times by Houston’s Rachel Daly. The back and forth action of the game made it exciting to watch and that’s why it’s my Challenge Cup Game of the Week.
The first goal of the contest came from Utah’s Diana Matheson, who spent the 2019 season recovering from injury. Matheson scored in the 35th minute and the Royals managed to keep that lead until Rachel Daly of the Houston Dash scored in the stoppage time of the first half. A few minutes into the second half, Rachel Daly got her brace when she scored in the 47th minute. Controversially Rachel Daly scored a third goal which would have given her a hattrick, but it was disallowed due to it being considered interfering with the keeper. The Houston Dash extended their lead to 3-1 when Shea Groom scored 67th minute. A handball in the 82nd minute allowed Utah’s Vero Boquete to score. Utah scored the tying goal of the game when newcomer Tziarra King scored in the 89th minute.
This game was a rollercoaster to watch, with the Dash controlling about 51% of the possession compared to the Royal’s 49%. Both the Royals and the Dash have new captains after their departure of their old captains to different teams. Rachel Daly really stepped up in a big way and proved that she is the right player to lead the Dash in the future. Likewise, Amy Rodriguez proved that she the right play for the Royals, as she was still making runs in stoppage time and not giving up on plays. Both teams have a lot to prove in the future, but today they proved why they should never be overlooked. It was really nice to see veterans like Diana Matheson, Shae Groom, Rachel Daly, and Vero Boquete scoring goals, while also seeing a rookie like Tziarra King getting an amazing goal herself.
Some interesting factoids for this game was that it took until the third game of the Challenge Cup for there to be a yellow card issued. There were three yellow cards in this game, the first to Royal’s Amy Rodriguez, the second to Dash’s Megan Oyster, and then the final yellow card to Diana Matheson. This game was also the first start for Matheson and Utah’s keeper Abby Smith since 2018, as well as the first time the Dash’s Katie Stengle got to play against her former teammates on the Royals.