Following the disappointing 5-2 loss in Irvine on Wednesday Against Orange County SC, the 3rd place Monarchs stay in southern California to take on LA Galaxy II on Saturday evening. Los Dos needs to come out of this match with three points and have Reno 1868 FC lose at home to Las Vegas Lights FC to keep the life support equipment hooked up to their playoff chances. The Monarchs can clinch a playoff spot with a single point against Galaxy II or a victory or draw by Saint Louis in their match with San Antonio FC. However, another loss on the road could possibly drop the Monarchs down to 5th place behind both Sacramento Republic FC and Portland Timbers 2 if they post wins and the Timbers can make up a a 2 goal difference deficit.
The Monarchs continue to search for an answer to their current woes and look to find victory for the first time in the last five matches. Sebastian Velasquez continues to fight for fitness and has managed to start in only 50% of the 30 matches so far this season due to injury and temper. In the 15 matches Sebastian started the Monarchs have posted a 11-2-2 record while in the 15 he has not started their record is 6-8-1 and he participated in two of the six victories. If he is able to return to the squad it might be sufficient to help galvanize the team for the final four matches of the season.
The Monarchs still have yet to start any group of 11 players for a second time this season. Each of their 30 starting lineups have differed from all the others by at least one of those named. They have started 6 different goalkeepers, 6 different left backs, 8 different center backs, 5 different right backs, 7 different defensive midfielders, 10 different offensive midfielders, and 3 different forwards. A total of 39 different players have appeared for the Monarchs in their 30 regular season matches.
With the developmental nature of the Monarchs and the desire to provide rehabilitation and tune-ups for the Monarchs such a turnover should perhaps be expected, but it appears that the lack of Velasquez, who has 17 appearances, from the spine that includes Justin Portillo (30 appearances), Kalen Ryden (30 appearances), Chandler Hoffman (29 appearances), Maikel Chang (28 appearances) and Charley Adams (27 appearances) has cast a pall over the season. Adams, Jose Hernandez, and Jack Blake have all struggled in that central creator role. Academy product Richie Ledezma, who is now off to Europe, was perhaps the best like-for-like replacement for Sebastian.
With the movement of the latest batch of academy talent aboard, the guaranteed departure of Chandler Hoffman for the new Birmingham team in 2019 and the departure of head coach Mark Briggs, a number of questions have emerged for the Monarchs. These final four games are a golden chance for the existing Monarchs to prove their worth and earn 2019 contracts. Who will take charge and stamp the name on the season? Join us for these four games beginning Saturday with Los Dos at 8:30 MT on ESPN+.