Following a charter flight on Thursday, Royal Monarchs SLC have spent the past couple of day preparing for the biggest game of their short five year history. Sunday evening’s USL Championship Final brings together the Western Conference champions into a single match winner take all final against Eastern Conference champion Louisville City FC.
Both Interim Head Coach Jamison Olave of the Monarchs and Head Coach John Hackworth of Louisville have publicly commented on how hard it is to prepare their teams for this match as each Conference in the USL Championship play independent schedules against only teams in their conference during the regular season. Short of preseason matches, US Open Cup matches and a very few cross over matches like last season’s Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Real Monarchs SLC meeting these Championship Finals are the only time teams from the different conferences have to prepare for a team in the other conference.
The Monarch’s opponent, Louisville City, and the defending champions after having won the Final in both 2017 and 2018 against their Western Conference opponents Swope Park Rangers and Phoenix Rising FC with identical 1-0 score.
“I think it’s going to be really interesting because I think both teams are going to have to feel each other out a little bit and see what the tactics are like,” said Louisville Head Coach John Hackworth. “I think it’s very interesting playing in such a league where you literally don’t see the other half of the league the entire time. To prepare [for the Final] is such a challenge. You can only watch so much video. You can go back and look up lineups and different tactics, so it is a challenge.”
Likewise Interim Head Coach Jamison Olave dded: “We didn’t know them very much, but in the last week I have been just watching games, watching them, how they play.”
Ultimately however it will be the players who decide the match on the field as expressed by Monarch’s captain Jack Blake. “Obviously, over the last however many years the league’s been going on, the East have usually prevailed in the final, and we’re hoping to change that this weekend,”
This match will be telecast on ESPN2 and ESPNDeportes begining at 5:30 Mountain Time. Several watch parties have also be organized at ‘BoutTime Pub and Grub and Beer Bar here in Salt Lake City.