In a game that they had to win, the Monarchs came out with yet another new lineup as Justin Portillo returned to the starting 11 from injury to take the place of Pablo Ruiz from the 2-1 victory over OKC Energy last week at home. While sporting a cast on his injured arm, Justin went for the full 90 minutes and looked sharp after the enforced absence for the past two matches.
Joseph Okumo, the young Kenyan who signed at the end of the PDL season, received his second start in a row and brought some height and size to the back four. Andrew Putna, who signed with RSL during the season, was back to start in goal for the Monarchs and was joined by Taylor Peay, Jose Hernandez and Connor Sparrow from RSL in the 18 man lineup.
The game started slow with the Monarchs looking to avoid the early goal which has been their downfall in so many matches this season. Shoots on goal were hard to come by with just a single soft shot by Myer Bevan for Fresno until a headed clearance from a Monarchs’ set piece fell nicely for a onrushing Charlie Adams who rifled it past former RSL keeper Kyle Reynish in the 37th minute.
The 1-0 lead held into halftime despite Fresno have a large lead in possession and more shots on goal. While in the locker room the Reno match ended with 1868 defeating Orange County 3-1 so the Monarchs emerged knowing that they would need to preserve their victory to play at home in the playoffs,
The second half was more of the same with Fresno seeming to control the possession and run of play as the Monarchs focused on getting the clean sheet and heading back home. The sole good chance for the Monarchs in the second half came as Justin Portillo stripped away a ball and midfield and rushed toward the goal sending another screamer at Reynish from even further out than Adams’ goal only to see it rebound off the crossbar.
The game ended in the third 1-0 victory over Fresno FC for the Monarchs this season ensuring that the first round match up with Reno 1868 FC will be played at Zions Bank Stadium. Join us at 3 PM this Saturday and cheer the Monarchs forward to their first playoff victory as a team.