After the action of last weekend, the Monarchs come into this match with a 3 point lead over 2nd place Orange County SC and 3rd place Phoenix Rising FC and 4 points over 4th place Sacramento Republic FC. However these three all have played more matches than the Monarchs; two more for Orange County SC and Sacramento Republic FC and only one more for Phoenix Rising FC.
5th place Reno 1868 FC comes into town seven points behind the Monarchs but even in matches played as both teams have been off since July 28th. Reno got off to a difficult start at home early in the season, but remains undefeated on the road with a record of 6-0-5 in their eleven matches away from Reno. The earlier match at Reno on July 3rd was an embarrassment for the Monarchs who lost by the largest margin of this season 3-0.
Brian Brown, who scored two of the three goals against the Monarchs, leads Reno with 8 goals. Daniel Musovski and Jerry van Ewijk follow close behind with 5 goals apiece. While the 33 goals scored so far this season is far off the pace of last season, Reno’s conversion rate of 15% has steadily climbed upward after their slow start and they now have a +9 goal differential.
Antoine Hoppenot has 8 assists and 35 key passes while playing mainly as a second striker. Together with Lindo Mfeka and Seth Casiple, who have 23 key passes apiece, Hoppenot seems to be the point through which all of Reno’s offense flows.
Another outstanding feature of the Reno midfield and defense is the relatively few fouls committed with their total of 230 being lowest in the Western Conference and only slightly above Indy Eleven. This allows them to utilize their speed and feeds into their uptempo style of play. If Reno gets out to a lead, they rarely lose it later in the match.
James Marcinkowski has 4 of Reno’s 6 clean sheets including the 3-0 shutout over the Monarchs where they had only a single shot on target. With the exception of Brent Richards out on the wing, the defensively line has been shuffled frequently and is a weakness for Reno.
The Monarchs enter the match in full health led by Sebastian Velasquez and Chandler Hoffman with 7 goals apiece. Velasquez was out injured during the earlier match in Reno and Hoffman failed to record a single shot despite playing a full 90 minutes. Maikel Chang continues to lead the team with 7 assists and 47 chances created. He had the sole shot in the 3-0 loss but also failed to provide meaningful service in Reno. These three will need to see a lot of the ball for the Monarchs to turn the score around.
Jake Leeker remains solid in goal for the Monarchs and seems to grow in confidence each match. With an ever-changing line of defenders in front of him he has stepped up to become a vocal presence and leader in the back.
With a road match on Saturday in Oklahoma City ahead look for some rotation among the Monarch’s starters, but with only a couple of RSL players down on loan as they are facing a long road trip to Montreal and then two games next week.
Here are a few things to watch for as tonight’s match progresses:
- Can the Monarchs hold Reno to no goals in the first half? This match will be determined by which team can keep momentum on their side. Both sides are experienced veterans with a knowledge of what it take to win the match and a history of play to the final whistle. Reno keep momentum clear on their side in the first meeting and this will need to change.
- Are Hoffman, Velasquez and Chang getting touches on the ball and are these in dangerous positions. All three of these key contributors were non-existent or out of the lineup in the first match.
- Can the Monarchs find joy from set-pieces and corners. Reno is not a tall team and has demonstrated some weakness in these situations. Portillo, Blake, and Adams need to make their balls in these situations effective and someone needs to set up and connect for the goal.
Join us in Herriman for a classic showdown tonight at 8 PM or on ESPN+.