Riding on a four match winning streak, the Monarchs have moved up into a playoff spot at 9th in the Western Conference standings. Tacoma Defiance, the newly rebranded Seattle Sounders 2, come to Herriman sitting in last place with a record of 2-11-9 and yet to find a victory on the road.
Well known for featuring a changing roster of youth players, the Defiance have only 5 USL rostered players over the age of 21 and none over the age of 24. Forward Shandon Hopeau leads the squad in minutes played, but has struggled to find the net with only a single goal in his 16 appearances. In fact, if the 6 goals from Justin Dhillon, who is the old man of the team at 24, are removed from consideration, the Defiance has scored only 7 goals including 1 from Will Bruin on assignment from the Sounders.
With a -30 goal differential in their first 18 matches the best hope for Tacoma is to play a compact defensive game on the road and hope for a chance on a quick counter. This approach was confirmed as Defiance pulled out two draws during their recent road swing with a 0-0 result at Edinburg against Rio Grande Valley FC and a 1-1 draw at Austin against Austin Bold.
After the loan of Josh Heard and Andrew Brody to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden and the injury to Ricardo Avila last week in the match against New Mexico United it is safe to say that there will be a number of changes in the lineup sent out against the Defiance. Brody with the minutes leader on the team with 1339 in 15 matches while Heard and Avila had 978 and 822 respectively. Steve Jasso and Jordan Pena, who were signed from the RSL Academy this season look to benefit from the absence of Brody and Avila, but the position left by Heard is much more up for grabs.
Douglas Martinez, who along with Maikel Chang, leads the team in goals is also on the verge of leaving to appear with the Honduran U-23 squad in 2020 Olympic qualifiers and the Pan American Games. Overall look for a number of RSL players on fitness assignments over the next several matches and the addition of recent signed Cristian Calix as he comes up to playing condition.
This match will be streamed live on ESPN-3 at 8 PM as the USL Championship Game of the Week with a national team of Mike Watts (play-by-play) & Devon Kerr (color) doing the call. However, it is also a great night for football out at Zions Bank Stadium with the Monarchs on the rise and looking to extend their current winning streak to five straight.