Finding themselves in third place looking up at both Orange County SC and Phoenix Rising, the Monarchs enter a two game road trip to Southern California this week in dire need of points to maintain a position within the top four and hopefully the top two if not first.
Wednesday’s match against 1st place Orange County SC is the Monarchs best chance to directly affect their finishing position. A full three points in Irvine will leave the Monarchs tied with Orange County SC at 57 points and with one more victory they will hold the 1st tiebreaker.
Regardless of the outcome In Irvine, the match between Swope Park Rangers and San Antonio FC earlier tomorrow will ensure that Orange County will clinch a playoff position as even a tie will leave at least one of those teams unable to exceed 57 points. As the Monarchs can also reach 57 points with a victory, the Monarchs can also clinch a postion in the the playoffs for the second time.
In addition, after tomorrow’s match Monarchs will still have four matches to outscore and OC side who will have only three matches remaining. OC will have to travel to both Cashman Field to meet the now Chelis-less Lights and to Greater Nevada Field to meet Reno 1868 FC on the final weekend. Reno currently stands in the last playoff spot but has games in hand which mean that this match could have real meaning for the final standings. Their only remaining home match at Champions Soccer Soccer will be against the already eliminated Seattle Sounders FC 2.
Following the Wednesday showdown in Irvine, the Monarchs move over to Stub Hub to face LA Galaxy II on Saturday when Los Dos will be playing for survival of their very thin chance at the playoffs. The Monarchs then return home for two matches against Colorado Springs, which beat them earlier this year at Weidner Field, and OKC Energy FC, who also beat them at Taft Stadium back in August. The Monarchs end the season on the road at Chukchansi Park in Fresno when Fresno FC has a 6-3-5 record at home.
Phoenix Rising FC, currently in 2nd place with 56 points and the other big competition for a top two position, is idle until this weekend which gives the Monarchs their opportunity to move back above them with a victory against Orange County. This opportunity come with a price however, as that will leave the Rising with 5 matches left in the season while the Monarchs will have only the four mentioned above remaining.
Phoenix has three of its final 5 matches at home but all three will be against definite playoff contenders in Reno 1868 FC, Saint Louis FC and Portland Timbers 2. The remaining two are at Weidner Field against Colorado Springs FC this weekend and Cashman Field against the glitter that is Las Vegas Lights FC.
in summary, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Monarchs desperately need to turn around the recent road woes and pull no less than 4 points out of this swing through Southern California. Faced with a similar situation last season the Monarchs pulled 6 points from trip to Sacramento and Reno. Can they repeat the magic and end the season on a high? Join us on ESPN+ at 8:00 PM Mountain Time.