Real Monarchs SLC who sit atop the Western Conference standings with 36 point out of their matches return home tonight in need a win over Seattle Sounders FC 2 to maintain their lead over hard charging Reno 1868 FC and Phoenix Rising. With only 1 point out of a two match swing through Reno and Sacramento, the Monarchs have seen their lead dwindle to a single point over Reno.
Seattle comes into Zions Bank Stadium with only 11 points and in last place in the Western Conference standings. They are on a four game losing streak with their last two against Reno and Swope Park at home in Cheney Stadium. Overall this season they have yet to find victory of the road and have a 0-5-2 record in their seven road games.
Sounders 2 goal differential of -17 goals along with a much better home record of 3-6-0 reminds one of the situation RSL currently find themselves in. They have been frequently blown out on the road while playing good ball and staying in their matches at home. The earlier meeting between the Monarchs and Sounders 2 at Cheney Stadium on April 11th ended with a 3-1 score in favor of the Monarchs.
Seattle has scored just 17 goals this season, only one above league bottom dwellers Ottawa, with nearly 50% of those coming from 30-year-old David Estrada who has 8 to his credit. Estrada spent five years as a backup with the parent Sounders early in their MLS tenure, but has spent the past several seasons with a number of USL and NASL clubs before signing with Sounders 2 this season. Felix Chenkam, a 20-year-old from Cameroon with international experience, has added an additional 4 goals.
In an effort to kickstart the team and provide a string of good performances, Head Coach John Hutchinson has moved through a number of starting formations including an unusual 3-1-4-2 in their most recent match. Sounders 2 have a very fluid starting lineup with only Estrada having made an appearance in all 16 matches they have played to this point. A total of 36 different players have appeared in a Sounder 2 uniform this season.
The Monarchs have struggled to find goals recently, but have an excellent opportunity to turn that around tonight against the Sounders 2 who have only a single clean sheet this season. Chandler Hoffman continues to lead the side with six goals followed by Kalen Ryden, Mastanabal Karcher, and Sebastian Velasquez.
Justin Portillo, who has quietly moved up to number 3 in overall passes in the USL and Charlie Adams continue to serve as the glue between the attack up top and the 4 man back line. With the move of Andrew Putna to a full MLS contract this week to replace the injured Connor Sparrow, look for Jake Leeker, who is up to 5 of the Monarchs’ 9 clean sheets this season, in goal with an academy player on the bench once again.
Here are three things to watch as the Monarchs close out a busy day of soccer with RSL playing in Minnesota and the Royals taking on Orlando at Rio Tinto:
- Seattle has shown no ability to claw their way back into games. The Monarchs need to take advantage early and press high up the field from the opening whistle. There is no need here to probe gently and wait for elevation to slow the team down.
- Injuries on the parent RSL and summer tryouts among the academy players have reduced the selection pool for the Monarchs in recent matches. Could this be the first time that a previously named starting 11 takes the field for the Monarchs?
- After a flurry of set piece goals early in the season, the Monarchs have struggled to find joy in recent matches. Will this be the match that Portillo or Adams once again connect on their corners and make the Sounders pay?
Join us for all the action, and a large screen view of RSL back in Minnesota this evening at Zions Bank Stadium.