After falling into a second place tie following the loss against Rio Grande Valley, the Monarchs have a chance to quickly rebound and move back into the top position in the USL Western Conference over idle Orange County SC. St. Louis FC, however, comes in Herriman with their sights set on breaking the tie with Reno 1868 FC for the final playoff which was the result of their 1-0 loss to Reno on Saturday.
Due to their central location Saint Louis FC are the wanderers of the USL moving from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference or vice versa for each of the past four seasons. Because of these switches in conference, the Monarchs and Saint Louis have only faced each other twice. Once at Rio Tinto in the opening match of the 2016 season which ended 1-0 in favor of the Monarchs as Maikon Orellana found the back of the net in the 90th minute for one of his five goals as a Monarch. And for the second time earlier this season back east in a match where St. Louis controlled everything but the final scoreline in 1-0 loss due to a penalty shot by Chandler Hoffman in the 15th minute.
Head Coach Anthony Pulis, the son of current Middlesborough manager Tony Pulis, was signed at the end of November 2017 and has created a side that is contending for the playoffs for the first time in the four years of play. Coming off a 2017 season that saw Saint Louis finish 12th in the Eastern Conference and finish with only 9 wins, the 2018 squad has 11 wins with another 6 games to play and remains a definite contender for the playoffs.
Building from the back he has created a tight defense, including Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs SLC veteran Phanuel Kavita, which has left Saint Louis with 10 cleans sheets and a +4 goal differential despite creating only 36 goals of their own. Very disciplined they have a total of only 41 yellow cards from their 28 matches this season which is fifth best in USL.
USL journeyman forward Kyle Greig continues to lead Saint Louis with 12 goals followed by Christian Volesky with 10 more. However, creation of quality chances continues to be a problem and Saint Louis sits with a conversion rate of only 12.7% which is fall below the 17.5% rate of the Monarchs.
With a string of three losses including their first home loss of the season against San Antonio FC on Labor Day, it is important for the Monarchs to seize hold of their destiny and return to the form and flowing play shown earlier in the season. Interim Head Coach Jamison Olave has attributed the recent drop in form to tired legs and fatigue, but coming into tonight’s match only three days after the loss in Edinburh will not allow much rest. The Monarchs squad which lost 2-1 against Rio Grande Valley started 5 players with MLS contracts and did gave Charlie Adams, Andrew Brody, Josh Heard and others a full night off and Kalen Ryden, Justin Portillo and Juan Mare a reduction in minutes.
Sebastian Velasquez remains questionable with a calf injury and who will provide a spark in midfield to ignite the Monarchs offense remains a open question. With only five matches remaining after tonight it is vital for the Monarchs to pick up some points tonight at home before heading off to a crucial showdown with current conference leaders Orange County SC on the road in Irvine next Wednesday.
Tonight’s match is the USL game of the week on ESPN 3 and begins at 8 PM. Join us at Zions Bank Stadium and cheer on the Monarchs in a great setting.