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Defense critical as Monarchs face Orange County SC tonight

First place Orange County leads USL with 5 shutouts in their 8 matches.

Roscoe Myrick | Real Salt Lake

In the second match of the first homestand at Zions Bank Stadium, the Monarchs will welcome the Western Conference leaders, Orange County SC. OC has compiled a 5-2-1 record through their first eight matches of the season, but also has a 4-1-0 record on the road to exceed even the 3-1-0 record of the Monarchs.

Andre Rawls, who was brought in on loan from NYCFC to replace the departing Charlie Lyons, has been fantastic in goal this season with 5 clean sheets so far this season for Orange County. Wth a save percentage of 86.7 Rawls has allowed only 4 goals this season. Two to Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg on a long road trip through Texas and 1 each to Phoenix and Sacramento in the first two matches of the season.

Along with Rawls, Thomas Enevoldsen and Aodhan Quinn have played a full ninety minutes each match so far this season with Christian Duke only 11 minutes short of that mark. Enevoldsen, a 30-year-old Dane who moved from Europe to USL this season, also leads Orange County with 5 goals from his position at the point of their favorite 4-1-4-1 formation.

Quinn, who moved over from FC Cincinnati this season, plays at the other solo position between the 4 midfields and the 4 man back line. He is the pivot of the Orange Country attack and averages a whopping 73.8 passes per match.

Orange County loves to play a high speed game with sequences of quick passes and moving the ball quickly out of their half and up the field. Much like the Monarchs they come out hard in search of early goals and seek to take a quick lead. Conversely, OC have not been very resilient as they were held scoreless in both of their losses and took till the 90’ to pull even in their only tie.

The Monarchs have struggled to find connections in the final third this season and will need to step up the offensive game to come out with a positive result. Chandler Hoffman, Masta Kacher, Kalen Ryden and Sebastian Velasquez all lead the team in scoring with two goals, but have struggled to show consistency from match to match with the changes in lineup and opponent.

As this match is the second of four home matches in 13 days, it will be important for the Monarchs to preserve legs and stamina as possible. Hoffman and Kacher both left the match with Las Vegas on Monday early in what could have been an attempt to preserve their legs for tonight. Early goals and a lead make those types of decisions much easier for Coach Briggs and his staff.

With the season ending injury to Alex Horwath, Connor Sparrow will be spending more time with RSL leaving the Monarchs with a changing lineup at goalkeeper. Sparrow has the Monarchs’ only two cleans sheets in his two starts, Putna, who has two starts this season but missed the past two matches due to injury, Horwath, and Ochoa, the academy goalkeeper, have all given up multiple goals in their appearances.

Tonight will also be now exception when it comes to guest appearances by RSL players. Taylor Peay, Marcelo Silva, Aaron Herrera and Adam Henley continue to rehabilitate from injury and could see time in a effort to prove their readiness for action with the parent club. Danilo Acosta, Jose Hernandez and Rocky Lopez-Esplin also continue to see frequent time with the Monarchs.

In addition, two more academy products have been added to the active roster and may also see time in the coming glut of matches. Jacob Jackson, another goalkeeper, and Glademir Mendoza, a central defender, join Sebastian Soto, David Ochoa, Richard Ledezma on the active roster.

Regardless of the team on the field, look for a fast paced entertaining match on the turf out in Herriman tonight. While the field dimensions are identical to those in Rio Tinto, the fans are close to the field and able to raise the noise level for the Monarchs.