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USL Match Preview: Real Monarchs vs. Tulsa Roughnecks

John Engels

The Real Monarchs (1-0-1) will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma for their third match of the 2016 season. Dropping two points after conceding twice in the dying minutes of the match against LA Galaxy II, the Salt Lake based USL squad will be looking to rebound after the 3-3 draw that felt more like a loss. It was the Tulsa Roughnecks (1-1-0), however, who actually lost at home to the Sporting Kansas City’s USL affiliate the Swope Park Rangers 2-1.

Both sides sit in the upper-middle portion of the conference standings within one point of each other. This match could easily become a six pointer as both teams battle to move higher in the standings. As it is both side’s third match, the Monarchs have the potential to move level with Western Conference leader LA Galaxy II, while the Roughnecks could throw their name into the scuffle that is second place. Either way, this match could prove to be an important early season turning point for either club.

Monarchs players return after stint with RSL

The Monarchs will be moving their way back to full strength after having two players loaned to the parent squad for the Kansas City match. Defender Emilio Orozco and forward Andrew Brody will again be available for selection by head coach Freddy Juarez.

Despite not entering the field of play, the Monarchs player filled the RSL bench and gave head coach Jeff Cassar some options. Still, the young players got to spend some training time with the first team and experience one of the best MLS stadiums, an experience that will only help the players develop.

2015 matchup results

These clubs met twice in their inaugural year, 2015, splitting the venues.

In the first match, on August 8, the clubs drew 1-1 at Rio Tinto. Emery Welshman opened up the scoring in the 13th minute Sammy Ochoa scored fourteen minutes later to draw the visitors level. After the half the match devolved into a chippy situation with three yellow cards being handed out in the final 36 minutes.

A week later, the Monarchs traveled to ONEOK Field. After the home side took the lead in the 23rd minute, the Monarchs were able to equalize seven minutes later. The match seemingly stalled for the next 27 minutes with neither team scoring nor really creating any chances until Tulsa attacker Lucas netted on in the 57th minute. From there the flood gates opened and the Roughnecks tallied three more times without a Monarchs' response to end the match at 5-1 despite the home side going down a man in the 88th minute.

Who to watch

With Nick Rimando's condition still in question, it is safe to assume that neither Lalo Fernandez or Jeff Attinella will be making an appearance for the Real Monarchs. Instead, expect last week's netminder Connor Sparrow to be in-between the posts for a second consecutive week.

As for the Monarchs' midfield, will be without the services of Omar Holness, absent after suffering a separated shoulder and his scare on USL match day one. So once again Tyler Arnone will be relied upon to create chances. Arnone strung passes together well against LA Galaxy II, but more importantly he got the opening goal. With another opportunity to impress, Arnone could snag yet another goal or possibly an assist.

After his stint on the RSL bench, Andrew Brody is back and likely to see more time the attacking three. Showing that he is reliable to be called up to the first team in dire straights should give Freddy the confidence to give him the nod.

The man who scored on the Monarchs twice last year is still will Tulsa and in-form. Sammy Ochoa has already notched an assist and a goal in the first two matches - contributing to 66 percent of the Roughneck's offense in 2016. The former MLS and Liga MX veteran and US youth international brings valuable experience to the Roughnecks which translates on pitch.

Although last season’s meetings with the Tulsa Roughnecks did not turn out as positive for the Monarchs as they would have liked, both clubs are now in the second year and that little bit more experience could be the difference. The Monarchs have already shown they have better situational and tactical awareness under Freddy Juarez in 2016 and will hope to keep their unbeaten streak going in 2016. As the sophomore sides prepare to do battle once more, Tulsa should expect a different Real Monarchs than last year.

Expected lineup

Real Monarchs (4-3-3): Connor Sparrow; Riley McGovern, Emilio Orozco, Lennon Celestino, Max Lachowecki; John Stertzer, Alex Sundly, Tyler Arnone; Amass Amankona, Andrew Brody, Ricardo Velazco.

Catch the match on USL's youtube page at 6 PM Mountain Standard Time.