A massively overhauled Real Monarchs SLC will open the USL Championship 2019 season on the road against one of the favorites among Western Conference in what should be a excellence test. Sacramento Republic FC, which finished the 2018 season in 2nd place under new head coach Simon Elliott, focus on further strengthening their squad in two particular areas.
The 47 goals scored in 2018 by the Republic was the fewest of all eight playoff teams except Saint Louis FC. The 17 goals scored by Cameron Iwasa broke the teams all-time record, but was nearly 40% of the total number scored with the next highest goal scorers coming in with only 5 goals. Stefano Bonomo, a native of the San Francisco Bay area and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley has been brought in to serve as a partner for Iwasa following several seasons with New York Red Bulls and New York RED Bulls II and a short stint with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Sacramento also negotiated a new contract with goalkeeper Josh Cohen, who moved from Phoenix Rising before the 2018 season and went to start all 34 matches of the 2018 season. A quality shot stopper, Josh’s 120 saves allowed the Republic to finish the season allowing less than a single goal per game and earned him All-League second team honors.
The Republic have cruised through a busy pre-season schedule and look to up the team’s image and stature along with the revamping of their organization’s bid for a place in MLS. The return of the fan favorite “sash” kit and the first ever pregame tailgating are all designed to ensure a loud and raucous crowd at Papa Murphy’s Park.
The Monarchs bring in an all time record of 5-2-4 against the Republic including a 2-1-3 record in Sacramento. As has become tradition with the organization look for a starting 11 made up of mainly RSL players down on loan looking to continue their pre-season build up to full fitness.
In particular look for Asam Henley, Donny Tois, and Erik Holt in the back line; Justin Portillo and Pablo Ruiz in midfield, Tate Schmitt up top and David Ochoa in goal. Julian Vazquez, Luis Arriaga, Sebastian Saucedo, Nick Besler and Alex Horwath may also make an appearance.
New Head Coach Martin Vazquez has a roster of 21 players contracted to the USL side and seems set to play in a style that is designed to allow players to easily move between squads. Even with the heavy infusion of players down from RS, expect to see returning Monarchs like Maikel Chang, Jack Blake and Kalen Ryden.
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 8:30 PM MST which should give fans time to back from Rio Tinto and warmed up after the home opener against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.