After 9 matches of the 32 match 2017 USL Season the Monarchs were at 8-1-0 and 5 matches into what would become a record setting 9 match winning streak . Their 24 points however, still left them second in the Western Conference standings behind San Antonio FC who had a comparable record but with more matches played.
Both season saw the first nine matches divided in 5 home matches and 4 on the road with the sole loss being on the road (to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in 2017 and Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2018). The single draw at home against Las Vegas Lights FC has left them with 22 points in 2018, but in first place as the is no other team keeping the same pace this season. Second place Phoenix Rising FC has played 10 matches, but also has a single loss (to the Monarchs in Scottsdale) and three ties.
At this point in 2017 the Monarchs were already at a +15 goal differential, limiting their opponents to just 10 goals or barely over an average of 1 goal per game. Of the 8 victories, 3 had been shutouts and the average margin of victory was exactly 2 goals. The Monarchs had scored in each of the 9 matches and recorded a total of 25 goals.
This season the Monarchs have a +9 goal differential, scoring a total of 18 goals while allowing only 9 goals. This leaves the goals allowed at exactly on per match. while their margin of victory is just a little over one goal. They have been shutout twice, once in the 2-0 loss to the Rowdies and once in the draw with Las Vegas. Just as in 2017 they have three shutouts in their nine matches.
Nearly half of the twenty-five goals scored in the first nine matches of 2017 were by Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez who had 6 each. 4 other players had 2 each and another 5 had a single goal each. 9 of the goals were scored by Hoffman and wingers Haber and Minter. 13 of the goals came from Velasquez and other midfielders (Hernandez, Besler, Adams, Hanlin and Holness). The final three goals came from the backline (2 by Moberg and one by Curinga)
In 2018, Kalen Ryden leads the Monarchs with 4 goals, five other have two each, and a further 3 have a single goal. The final 18th goal was an own goal scored by an opponent in their behalf. 9 of the 17 goals scored by Monarchs have come from the forwards and wingers (2 each by Mare, Kacher, Chang and Hoffman with the final one by Baird). Only three have come from midfielders ( 2 by Velasquez and 1 by Adams). The final five have been by the back line (4 by Ryden and another by Besler).
In 2017 only 3 of the the 25 goals were scored by players down on loan from Real Salt Lake (2 by Hernandez and another by Holness) while the remaining 88% were by players signed with the Monarchs. For 2018 only Besler and Baird have scored while on loan with the Monarchs. Players signed with the Monarchs have scored the remaining 15 or an identical 88% percent once again.
As is always the case with statistics, all of this should be taken with a grain of salt. Things can and will change. However, a couple of interesting conclusions can be drawn.
- While players on loan from RSL may have skills that should exceed the level of those on USL sides, they do not contribute a large proportion of the goals scored by the Monarchs.
- Even with the low number by Hoffman, the Monarchs in 2018 have been much more successful at getting goals from the front line forwards and wingers than the 2017 version of the team.
- With scoring much more balanced in 2018, things can only look up if Hoffman and Velasquez get hot as the season continues, The five goals lost by the release of Haber, Minter, Holness and Curinga at the end of the 2017 have been more than covered by 2018 newcomers Ryden, Kacher, Chang and Baird who have nine so far in 2018.
- So far in 2018 the Monarchs do not have the rabbit provided by San Antonio in 2017 to keep them pressing forward to maintain a position at the top of the Western Conference. Can Phoenix and Sacramento stay in contact to make it a tight race?
- So far, fingers crossed, we are looking at another 2017 rather the 2015 or 2016. Get out to Zions Bank Stadium and enjoy some soccer in the crowd friendly confines of their new home. It will be exciting and worth your time just after the Memorial Day weekend.