1. The formation is a work-in-progress
As we watch the team try to suss out a new shape, we can spot plenty of opportunities for improvement. This is to be expected, but we've also seen the shape improve game-over-game. Shifting to a 4-3-3 from the 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield was always going to take time, and we've seen the growing pains already. That we've done so without achieving awful results is probably something of a surprise, too.
2. There's a youth movement in progress
Jordan Allen and Sebastian Saucedo are the latest figures in our 'youth movement': Allen's scored his first goal having played fewer than 60 career minutes, and Saucedo has already played more first-team minutes (one) than some of his academy graduate predecessors — like Benji Lopez, Nico Muniz and Donny Toia. Lalo Fernandez will be getting his time in with the Monarchs and looking good.
We probably won't have to wait long to see Elias Vasquez (22), Justen Glad (18) and Fito Ovalle (17) making their RSL debuts, too.
3. Veterans remain key
As much as we talk about this 'youth movement', we're still reliant on our veterans to get us through the tricky parts of matches. Kyle Beckerman and Javier Morales remain the influential players they are on the pitch, with the other midfielder — regardless of who it is — not really getting fully into the build-up game. Without Javier Morales creating attacking options, we're struggling considerably right now.
This, of course, isn't to say that someone like Luis Gil couldn't play that position and do it well. But the fact remains that Morales is doing (as usual) a bang-up job of it.
4. 2015's going to be a wild ride
When we think about the new formational approach, we should also think about the fact that it sets us up to score loads of goals if everything gets moving properly. But even with it not, we've scored our fair share — but it might also leave us in a more defensively vulnerable position. How will we manage that? It sounds panic-inducing, so you should probably buckle up.
5. Monarchs paying early dividends
When John Stertzer and Sebastian Saucedo were subbed on in RSL's 2-1 win over Toronto, it signaled a very early victory for Real Monarchs: Without playing time previously this season, there's no way they come on during a tight, nervy game. Stertzer is just coming back from injury, and his 90 minutes for the Monarchs gave a good indication of his availability for this one. Saucedo getting regular minutes with Monarchs gave him a chance for everyone on the coaching staff to make sure he was ready to play an important role.