Much like the parent club, Real Salt Lake, the Monarchs have struggled to find consistency and points on the road this season. With a 5-6-1 road record so far in 2018 and five matches still to come, the Monarchs will need to turn that around to maintain their lead in the Western Conference standings. Wednesday’s match against a Colorado Springs Switchbacks team that has historically been very solid at home is the first step before a long trip down to Edinburg, Texas for a match with Rio Grande Valley followed by a critical match in Irvine against 3rd place Orange County SC.
The Switchbacks have also struggled this season on the road, but with a 7-4-3 record at home have managed to make Weidner Field a defensive fortress. Only 8 goals of the 28 goals scored against Colorado Springs this season have come at home and they have allowed more than a single goal in only one match, a 4-2 victory over Tulsa on July 21st.
The Switchbacks issues come more on the offensive side as they have also scored only 28 goals in 27 matches or barely over 1 goal a match. In comparison, the Monarchs have allowed only 27 goals, one less than the Switchbacks, but scored 46 goals in 25 matches or nearly 2 per match.
Defenders Jamal Jack, Josh Suggs, and Jordan Burt have appeared in all 27 matches for the Switchbacks and provide a solid defensive core than averages 28 years-of-age. With Jordan Schweitzer, the only other Switchback to appear in all 27 matches, sitting just in front of them as a defensive midfielder they have had the entire season to develop as a unit. However, Burt was shown the red card in the 65th minute against Phoenix last Saturday and the side went on to give up 4 late goals and lose 4-0.
The suspended Burt also leads the team with 6 goals followed midfielders Shane Malcolm with 5 and Luke Vercollone with 4. Among the forwards Aj Ajeakwa and Martin Maybin lead with 3 goals each. In general, the Switchbacks attack is heavily weighted to the right with 17 of their 28 goals coming of the right foot of players.
Fresh off his two goals and an assist against Los Dos on Saturday, Chandler Hoffman has been named to the USL team of the week and will be looking to improve on his team leading 11 goals. With Sebastian Velasquez still questionable, however, it remains to see who will be providing the service into the box. Maikel Chang has seven assists but will need support from a combination Justin Portillo, Charlie Adams, Jack Blake and whoever else sees the midfield in this match.
Jamal Charles, the new signing up top saw the field for 7 minutes against Los Dos and with the congested schedule this week looks likely to see another appearance. We may also see some of the bench defenders from parent RSL get a run for 45 minutes during this mid-week match before Saturday’s match against the Galaxy at Rio Tinto. Adam Henley, Demar Phillips, Danilo Acosta, Taylor Peay and Shawn Berry are among the possibilities.
It is likely that Adam Grinwis will be in goal for the third straight match as Andrew Putna and Jake Leeker remain on duty with RSL. As such, it will be important for RSL to work toward a shutout of Colorado Springs and close tightly contested match.
Here a couple of things to watch as the match plays out at nearly 6,000 ft in Colorado Springs.
- With an important match against San Antonio coming up on Labor Day, look for some of the Monarchs to get a rest or play only 45 to 60 minutes in an attempt to preserve legs for Monday.
- Grinwis is still learning his defender’s style and tendencies. With the possibility of changes in the back four it will be important to get the communication right early in the mahe tch.
- After the 4-0 victory against Los Dos on the weekend, the Monarchs need to focus on clean sheet first and goals second to come away with points. Pressing the attackers and especially the midfield of the Switchbacks early could lead to an early goal and a much more fruitful match. However, the defense needs to remain vigilant.
The match starts at 7 PM on Wednesday and will be carried live on ESPN+