Real Monarchs will take the field in Utah in a competitive for the first time today, making their debut at Rio Tinto Stadium against Portland Timbers 2.
It's a momentous occasion for the Monarchs, who are taking the field as a professional USL team in Utah for the first time since Utah Blitzz folded in 2004 (not coincidentally, this was the year Real Salt Lake became official.) That Blitzz team won two championships.
Monarchs come into the match with a draw against LA Galaxy II and, most recently, a loss against Portland Timbers 2 — tonight's opponents. (There's something funny about facing Timbers twice in a row, given the fun we've had with the first teams against each other in the last few years.)
The defense in that most recent match wasn't exactly clicking properly, and the goalkeeper, Victor Rodriguez, wasn't at his best, particularly when the ball came to his feet from a fairly simple backpass and he wasn't able to control it — leading to a second Timbers goal.
There are things to work on, certainly, for Real Monarchs. But after only two professional games, these problems are to be expected — and we'll probably see some similar things from Portland Timbers 2 at our place.
In from Real Salt Lake: Unlike the first Real Monarchs match, a list of players probably won't be made available until the lineup is announced an hour before kickoff. With that in mind, we've made some predictions.
Boyd Okwuonu, Phanuel Kavita, and Aaron Maund will probably again make up the numbers in the back. Lalo Fernandez almost certainly makes a return in goal. Fito Ovalle is probably due another appearance at the base of the midfield. Sebastian Saucedo could make another appearance, but his proximity to the first team and the injury to Sebastian Jaime could see him unavailable, too. John Stertzer, back to fitness, probably doesn't need to play, but it would certainly help the USL side.
Out: Utah native Garrett Losee is out after receiving a red card and subsequent suspension in the last match.
Predicted starting lineup: Lalo Fernandez*; Boyd Okwuonu*, Aaron Maund*, Phanuel Kavita*, Riley McGovern; Fito Ovalle*, Tyler Arnone, Lucas Baldin; Emery Welshman, Sebastian Saucedo*, Ricardo Velazco