The Monarchs came out for their first real test of the current preseason against Reno 1868 FC with with a brunch of new faces that included recent academy signing Steve Jasso at right back, returner James Moberg and current academy player Noah Beck at center back, and new signing Noah Powder at left back. The midfield consisted of another returner in Jack Blake, new academy signing Jordan Pena and our new Panamanian signing Ricardo Avila, The front three featured the most returning players with Maikel Chang and Josh Heard on the wings and former academy member Damian German in the middle. New signing Ethan Finney was in goal for the entire match.
As should be expected from past matches, Reno came out very physical and attempted to use their size and speed to effect early. The Monarchs countered with tight marking and attempts to compress the middle of the field. Although the Monarchs found success in the opening minutes, Reno showed their better conditioning at this stage of the preseason and struck for two goals in the first half in the fourth minute and a little over 20 minutes later.
Shortly after resuming play in the second half, Reno was awarded a penalty kick which they converted for a 3-0 lead and the rout was on. The game became a high speed affair with a great deal of back and forth as the Monarchs fought to get something in the goal and Reno cheated heavily on the offensive side.
Both sides substituted heavily in the second half allowing the coaches to get a good look at the players in preseason camp and experiment with some formations. New signings Lionel Etoundi and Luis Palma, MLS SuprDraft pick Sam Brown, and another current academy player in Ben Ortiz all saw a number of minutes in the second half along with Kalen Ryden from last years squad.
For new head coach Martin Vasquez the highlight was the experience provided to his new young players coming into the team from abroad and the academy.
“This is a different level, a different league, and it’s a learning moment for them,” Vasquez said. “It’s going to be more competitive, more physical. My thing is that the soccer is there, with our new faces not really understanding – yet – a team like Reno, the competition, but its going to come along. We have a few games then we have Sacramento on March 9th and that’s what we have to look forward to.”
“For our first preseason game, I think we got some answers. We don’t have all our players, with what we have, we’ve been working hard and we are going to take this as a learning moment, as a learning experience. We got some answers, and it gives us an opportunity to work on those answers.”
The Monarchs will be back on the field in a friendly against Utah Valley University at 3 PM on Monday, the 18th, and then conclude the Wasatch Winter Cup against Colorado Springs Switchbacks GC on Thursday at 11:30 AM.