Saturday at a revamped Cashman Field, the Monarchs will feature in “Salute to Vegas Golden Knights Night” where the USL Lights will wear a special commemorative jersey designed with NHL Vegas Golden Knights colors in their first home game after two road losses. While smiley may be a no show, just who will wear the mask and do the slashing remains to be determined.
The Light lead the league with 52 shots taken after three matches, but have only converted twice leading to a 4.7% conversion rate. One goal was scored in each road loss. Meanwhile their defense has conceded 5 goals and struggled to a 0-0 draw in the home opener for their only clean sheet this season. Time to fire up the helicopter and brings out the llamas.
Both Light goals this season have resulted from close in headers off free kicks where back line defenders had a chance to move up the field and establish position which gives the Monarchs a clear defensive goal. Their high energy offense is designed to push the ball directly up the field and features frequent crosses into the box accompanied by non-stop music through the stadium.
The bigger question is how will the Monarchs led by Martin Vasquez approach this game? Coming off a 5 goals effort at home last weekend will we see a hunger for goals and push for three points on the road or more of the new road approach which is rumored to focus on defensive and managing the match to remain in contention?
A single goal lead and the switch to play Maikel Chang in the center opened up the match against Los Dos and led to 4 goals in a very active second half at home. Will the injuries to Ricardo Avila, Luis Palma and Jordan Pena led to similar offensive changes in midfield or will the focus shift to maintaining a tight defense that has allowed only one goal past David Ochoa in the first three matches?
if the choice swings to the defensive side, look for help from RSL in central defense as Kalen Ryden returns from his red card suspension. James Moberg is a canny veteran but not large and Joseph Okum looks great in the air given the opportunity, but has the legs of a anorexic teenager and not real bulk to shore up a team built to battle in the box. Justin Portillo is suspended from MLS, but could absolutely anchor the Monarch’s midfield in the absence of Avila.
Offensively Douglas Martinez remains without a goal despite putting in three quality starts and faces challenges from Tate Schmitt and Julian Vasquez as possible loan options from RSL and Lionel Abate Etoundi who came in late against Los Dos and bundled in a goal against the shorthanded side. Masta Kacher continues to add spark from off the bench, but has yet to start a match this season.
Move on over to ESPN+ and watch the circus beginning at 8:30 PM after enjoying RSL at home against Dallas FC.