Put the top down on that sweet ride and join us in the foothills at Zions Bank Stadium as the Monarchs look for a second home victory over the expansion Fresno FC. Following a quick trip through Missouri in which they split their two matches, the Monarchs are at home for a single match before going back out on the road before a tough road trip to Reno and Sacramento during the 4th of July week.
1-0 victors in the earlier match on May 12th at Zions Bank Stadium, the Monarchs enjoyed 67% of the possession and out shot the Foxes 15-4. The sole goal in that match came in the 8th minute as a streaking Maikel Chang sent a hard shot off the outstretched hand of former RSL man Kyle Reynish in Fresno’s goal.
Fresno arrives in Herriman with 19 points out of their 17 matches and 4 points below the Western Conference playoff level. With a 1-4-3 record on the road, the Foxes sole road victory came against Sounders 2 early in the season. Fresno are on a short layover having lost a tight 1-0 match to the Switchbacks at high altitude in Weidner Field on Saturday.
Yet to score more than a single goal on the road this season and shutout entirely in 3 of their last four away matches, Fresno FC will likely attempt to set up a deep defense and attempt to keep the match close while hoping for a quick chance on a counter or mistake by the Monarchs. With only 4 of their 22 goals this season coming on the road, they still have managed to tie both Phoenix Rising and Reno 1868 on the road through use of these tactics.
Jemal Johnson, a 33-year-old forward, who spent the last six years in the NASL including the final three with Jacksonville Armada, leads the Foxes with seven goals. He is followed by playmaker Juan Pablo Caffa, who moved over from Tulsa this season, with 3 goals. Five other players from a rotating group of forwards and midfielders have the bulk of the ramaining goals.
The Foxes tend to favor team oriented defense with 6 or 7 players behind the ball at all times while leaving a rotating cast of 3 or 4 to look for a cheap turnover or quick break up the field. Rather than encouraging their full backs to make frequent runs up the sidelines they have been content to stay tidy at the back, especially on the road.
The Monarchs continue to distribute playing time widely and have yet to start the same 11 players in any of their 15 matches. With the USSDA playofs in San Diego we are unlikely to see any of the academy players tonight, but look for several players down on loan from RSL to play a prominent role.
While Chandler Hoffman seems to have found his confidence in front of goal, the Monarchs continue to struggle through the midfield and losing Sebastian Velasquez for tonight’s match as he serves his second match in a two match suspension will not help. A switch to a 4-4-2 lineup in St. Louis seemed to help shore up the midfield, so we might see it yet again as the Monarchs attempt to break down the thick Fresno defense.
Here are three things to watch as the match unfolds tonight:
- Fresno FC tends to lineup up in a fairly standard 4-4-2 formation, but scatters its nominal forwards and midfielders all over the front 6 in an effort to promote switches and confuse the defenses. The Monarchs; defense will need to keep track of the entire front six and not simply focus on a single player or matchup.
- The Monarchs need to press early and get a goal or two by halftime. Fresno does not have a great ability to recover, but has amply demonstrated that they have the focus to stay in a match of the full ninety minutes and sneak a late goal.
- The Monarchs will need to find some type of efficiency in midfield as they attempt to compensate for the suspended Sebastian Velasquez. Whether from Jose Hernandez on load from RSL or Jack Blake, the newest USL signing, look for the Monarchs to try a involve the center of the field early and often.
The weather looks to be great and $2 children’s tickets and food items all contribute to a great outing to support the RSL family tonight at 7 PM.