Canada’s Matheson opens scoring for Utah in 1st-round NWSL draw with Houston

Rookie Tziarra King came off the bench and scored her first National Women’s Soccer League goal Tuesday to pull the Utah Royals into a 3-3 draw with the Houston Dash in the Challenge Cup tournament.

Rachel Daly scored a pair of goals as the Dash built a 3-1 lead but the Royals came back with late goals from Vero Boquete and King in the match played without fans at Zions Bank Stadium.

The NWSL is the first professional team sports league in the United States to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. The league was shut down on March 12 before the regular season had started.

Diana Matheson took a feed from Amy Rodriguez and slotted it for a goal in the 35th minute to give the Royals the early lead. Matheson missed last season with a foot injury that also kept her off Canada’s squad for the World Cup.

WATCH | Matheson opens scoring for Royals:

Diana Matheson of Oakville, Ont., scores in the 35th minute. Utah Royals FC and Houston Dash went on to play to a 3-3 draw. 0:45

Daly tied it at 1-all in first-half stoppage time. Her second goal was a header off a corner kick in the 47th minute. She appeared to get the hat trick in the 61st minute but the official said it was not a goal.

Houston went up 3-1 in the 67th minute with Shea Groom’s goal from the top of the box. But the Royals pulled closer on Boquete’s free kick that went in between a gap in the wall in the 82nd minute. They tied on King’s header in the 89th.

The Royals were without top scorer Christen Press, the U.S. national team star who opted out of the tournament. Fellow national team player Kelley O’Hara did not play because of a quad injury.

As in Saturday’s Challenge Cup openers, the players wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts during warmups. Nearly every player knelt when the national anthem was played. But unlike Saturday, players were given the option of remaining in the locker room for the anthem. The rule was changed following criticism of some players who stood during the anthem before the opening games.

All eight of the league’s teams that are participating in the tournament are playing four group stage games to determine seeding for the quarter-finals. The final is set for July 26.

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