This evening the Monarchs will complete their first season series with a initial visit to Cashman Field in Las Vegas. The Lights, who held the Monarchs to a scoreless draw in the grand opening of Zions Bank Stadium just under three weeks ago, will be ready to demonstrate the type of showmanship that Vegas makes its money from.
Expect Elvis impersonators, coordinated costumes and llamas to emerge in the pregame warm ups and to continue with frenzied fans throughout the match. Just don’t expect the match to feature nearly the character and excitement of the show in the stands.
Las Vegas, to the delirious delight of the the fifth largest average attendance in USL who seem focused on the party in the stands, leads the league in yellow cards and plays a rather dour defensive game on the field. Yet to break double digits with only 9 goals in their 8 matches, the Lights also sit dead last in passes attempted by a wide margin and dead last in passing accuracy at 62%.
Las Vegas’ widely wandering goalkeeper, Ricardo Ferriño, has saved 28 of the 38 shots he has faced thus far and has had several save of the week nominations iincluding the save of the week in Week 9. Ferriño’s sole clean sheet came agains the Monarchs at Zion Bank Stadium when the Lights went down to 10 men early and played in a bunkered defensive formation for the bulk of the game.
The experienced back four lead by Joel Huiqui and Miguel Garduño reall upon positioning and the size rather than foot speed. When beaten they are not afraid to take a professional foul and contribute greater the the team’s totals. It was Marcelo Alatorre on the right wing who took the early red card against the Monarchs.
Daigo Kobayashi, another veteran who frequently started for the New England Revolution over the past four seasons, is typically the defensive linchpin in midfield and serves to clog the middle of the pitch along with Marco Jaime and Julian Portugal.
Finally up top the Lights feature the likes of Sammy Ochoa, Juan Carlos Garcia, Freddy Adu and Carlos Alvarez who leads the team with 3 goals from his play maker position in attack midfield. Matt Thomas adds the only real speed in the attacking half, but has struggled to find time on the pitch.
This match is the Monarchs 100th regular season match in USL play and comes at a time when the team appears to be creating a identity for the 2018 season. Chandler Hoffman, who will continue his search for his 50th goal in USL play, and Sebastian Velasquez continue to be team leaders jsut as in 2017, but in not so dominant a role.
Newcomers Kalen Ryden, Maikel Chang, Justin Portillo, Masta Kacher and Josh Heard have emerged as key pleyers and have driven the offense early in this season. Ritchie Ledezma and David Ochoa from the RSL Academy have also seen time on the pitch whith others making the gameday 18.
With the ongoing necessity of providing playing time for RSL players down on loan the Monarchs already have 29 players with time on the field and have yet to field the same starting 11 for two matches in a row. As the Monarchs head out on the road following a very successful and very compact 4 game home stand look for a little more stability and understanding from the players as they reach that 10 game mark.
Here are three things to look for as this match begins:
- The Monarchs need to make to be effective and efficient from the wings. The Lights will drive opponents play to the wings and then rely upon the size and bulk of their central defenders to prevent effective entry passes.
- The Monarchs need to take advantage of their strengths. As mentioned above the Lights do not play a high temp quick passing game and are prone to turn the ball over with errant passes. The Monarchs seize any opportunity offered by the Lights and make them pay.
- The Monarchs must use their speed to counteract the size of Las Vegas. They cannot afford to be draw into a chippy exchange of fouls with frequent whistles breaking up play and slowing the game down.
Here is hoping that the 100th is another victory on the road to help erase the memory of the stalemate in Herriman and that Hoffman will finally get his 50th and start to heat up in front of goal. Join me this evening as the game kicks off at 9:00 PM MDT.