Coming off a bye week the Monarchs will be out on the road Saturday night against OKC Energy FC in Oklahoma City. In four visits the Monarchs have yet to walk away from Taft Stadium with even a single point while being outscored 9-3 and held scoreless twice. Among non-expansion sides, this road trip has always been the most frustrating for the Monarchs.
After a 2018 campaign that say them fall out of the playoffs with a 12-7-15 record, the Energy are back in in playoff contention joining a pack of 6 teams with 14 points. Like the Monarchs they have scored 17 goals so far this season with 6 coming from former Colorado Rapid and DC United forward Deshorn Brown.
Atiba Harris, who played with Real Salt Lake in 2006-2007, is one of five players to have started all ten games this season for the Oklahoma City side. In one of the most widely reported stories about the USL Championship this season, Harris tweets about the racial insults he suffered following the April 27th rivalry match against Tulsa Roughnecks FC resulted in the dismissal of Fabián Andrés Bastidas from the Tulsa squad.
The Monarchs continue to suffer not only through their own health issues, but also those of Real Salt Lake which limits the availability of players on assignment. David Ochoa has joined the US U-20 team for the World Cup in Poland which means we are once again likely to see Evan Finney in goal. However, after the end of the regular schedule for the academy we should being to see more players receive chances with the Monarchs inupcoming home games.
Offensively the Monarchs continue to struggle moving the ball up the field despite have 52% of possession through their first 11 matches. The captain, Jack Blake, is listed as questionable for the match on Saturday and Luis Palma is off to Poland with the Honduran U-20 team which raises questions about the who will play in the offensive midfield against the Energy in front of the Ricardo Avila and Jordan Pena.
Douglas Martinez also remains injured which leaves a opening in the center at the top of the attack. leaving room for Lionel Abate Etoundi or Damian German to get a spot start. Tate Schmitt and Luiz Arriaga may also see time in the attack on assignment from Real Salt Lake.
The action all goes down at 6:30 MDT on ESPN+ which does not conflict with either Real Salt Lake’s early afternoon match with Toronto FC or the Utah Royals match on Sunday in North Carolina.