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Real Monarchs squad overview: Goalkeepers, defenders

Ahead of the USL and Real Monarchs’ season opener this weekend, here’s a brief look at the Monarchs goalkeepers and defeders and what we can hope to expect from each player this season.

Real Monarchs 4

Goalkeepers

Eric Osswald

A 2014 Xavier grad, Eric Osswald is in his second year with the club, and he's starting this season as second-choice again. Osswald, 24, is behind Lalo Fernandez, but international call-ups and injuries may see him earning starting minutes as the season wears on.

Last season: Osswald played eight matches and conceded nine goals, which was actually extremely good, considering Fernandez averaged 1.7 goals conceded, a metric not of quality but of the defensive situation at the club. Osswald showed surprising growth over the season, though, and he was probably the Monarchs' most improved player.

What to expect: Look for Osswald to continue his growth by focusing on footwork and positioning during set pieces .

Connor Sparrow

Sparrow, RSL's 2016 fourth-round draft pick, was a two-year starter at Creighton, where he earned 9 and 11 clean sheets in his final two years. Although he was one of TopDrawerSoccer's top 100 collegiate players (he ranked 98th), Sparrow isn't likely to earn minutes quickly.

Last season: In 23 matches, Sparrow kept nine clean sheets and kept a 74 percent save success percentage.

What to expect: Look for Sparrow to continue his development, and he may find himself in competition with Eric Osswald for the backup position as the season wears on.

Defenders

Tyler Arnone

As a first-year professional, Arnone, 24, brought some steady full back play to Real Monarchs in 2015. Having graduated from University of Michigan with 75 games under his belt, Arnone has been a surprising addition to the team. A rookie by all accounts, Arnone showed a surprising consistency of play that handed him consistent minutes as the season wore on.

Last season: Arnone certainly earned the bulk of his minutes during the second half of the season, as most of hte time, he was behind RSL defender Boyd Okwuonu at right back. But he showed his worth with his consistency off the bench, and that led to him being more or less the Monarchs' starter.

What to expect: With Monarchs not exactly strengthening at right back, Arnone is probably the first-choice Monarchs player — but expect him to share minutes again with Boyd Okwuonu. He could additionally play in a defensive midfield spot in a pinch.

Jony Caparelli

One of Real Monarchs more intriguing signings this offseason, Caparelli, 20, brings some international flair to Real Monarchs. He's played with Chivas USA's youth team spent time with Mexican academies, and apparently has spent time in Argentina.

Last season: Caparelli was a frequent trialist and training member for Real Monarchs.

What to expect: Caparelli's an interesting one — as a full back, his highlights and friendlies haven't exposed too much of him outside of a penchant for creativity. But without a professional match under his belt, how he adjusts will speak volumes of him as a player, as well as what we can expect from him in 2015.

Darion Copeland

Copeland, a second-year Real Monarchs player and professional at 25 year sold, is a player we still don't know enough about. He played only intermittently last year, and as a result, we're left wondering what he offers.

Last season: Copeland played in 13 matches for Real Monarchs, starting six of them. He showed plenty of room for growth, and he was firmly behind Phanuel Kavita and Emilio Orozco for a starting spot.

What to expect: While he'll probably get some early chances to start, Copeland is likely down on the depth chart — look for him to make occasional starts during tight turnarounds, but don't expect him to lock down a starting spot if Chris Schuler is fit. He'll have an excellent chance to learn from one of RSL's best defenders.

Max Lachowecki

A first-year professional, Lachowecki was drafted 25th overall by Real Salt Lake and looked to be a capable left back, proving one of RSL's more impressive draft picks. He has an opportunity with Real Monarchs to prove that he's starting-caliber, but he'll have to oust either Tyler Arnone or Riley McGovern, both of whom earned starting spots last year.

Last season: Lachowecki captained Notre Dame, making 22 appearances in his senior year.

Riley McGovern

2016's most minutes-earning player, McGovern, 24, is a second-year professional that's most comfortable at full back on either side for Real Monarchs. He cuts an interesting figure in the position, though, as he's a bit lanky.

Last season: McGovern locked down a starting position early, and he kept it throughout 2015. Primarily a left back, he showed surprising pace and technical ability moving up the field, but his greatest assets were defensive.

What to expect: Continued growth from McGovern could see him pushing against the edge of Real Monarchs development abilities, but he'll need to grow at the same pace as last season's team.

Emilio Orozco

Once a member of Chivas USA, Orozco, 23, has experience at youth international levels, playing for U.S. U-17s and U-20s and being involved with the prestigious U-17 national team Residency Program. He also played with Tigres' youth setup and Ft. Lauderdale Strikers before joining Monarchs.

Last season: While he wasn't Real Monarchs starting center back when the season started, he ended there — after some true uncertainty around that position, he grew into the role and locked it down, earning 22 appearances and 18 starts.

What to expect: Orozco certainly has the position locked down for the start of the season, and don't be surprised if he's the one partnering someone like Chris Schuler down the line. With his level of experience, he'll be aiming high — a first-team contract next year will undoubtedly be a goal he's looking toward.

Chris Schuler

What is there to say about Chris Schuler that hasn't already been said? A six-year MLS veteran, Schuler, when fit, is easily one of the top-tier center backs in MLS. But that's where things get tricky: Fitness has been something hard to come by for Schuler. He's spent more time injured than he has on the pitch, and last year, his injuries saw him play only five RSL games.

Last season: Five matches of 34 regular season opportunities isn't exactly shining. Schuler went through the first round of the 2015 MLS Re-Entry Draft, wasn't selected, and opted to continue with the RSL system.

What to expect: Look for Schuler to return a couple months into the season as he continues his rehabilitation. If all goes well, don't be shocked to see Schuler leave Monarchs in the summer and join Real Salt Lake — but at this point, that's a big 'if'.