Real Monarchs, now comfortably sitting in 7th place in the USL Championship Western Conference standings and looking like a team having fun on the field, begin a two game road swing through Texas tonight at Southwest University Park in El Paso.
Since playing to a 0-0 draw against the Monarchs in the home opener at Zions Bank Stadium on March 16th, the Locomotive have pieced together a good debut season that has them in contention for a playoff berth, Their 7-5-7 is a bit deceiving however as only a single loss has come on the road where they have established a tradition of lock down defending and holding on for a draw. At Southwest University Park, they only have a record of 4-4-2 and have lost their last two home games to Las Vegas Lights FC and San Antonio FC.
Jerome Kiesewetter, a 26-year-old German-American who spent his entire career in Germany, was brought in to lead the offense of the debut Locomotive squad and has responded with 10 goals leaving him in a large tie for 4th in the Championship. However, he has been out with an injury and goal production tails off drastically with the next highest scorers being four players with 2 goals each. This has led to a number of new signings including former RSL and Monarch player Sebastian Velasquez in an attempt to kick start their attack.
Defensively El Paso is lead by goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, who spent several years as a backup with Columbus Crew in MLS. Hard hit with injuries along the defensive line the Locomotive have looked great in the back at times and awful at others. Currently it seems that the injuries might be on the wane. Velasquez has received his paper work and is cleared to play while Kiesewetter and captain Chiro N’toko are 50-50 to be in the squad tonight.
The Monarchs will once again be featuring a young squad as academy signings like Steve Jasso, Jordan Pena, Luis Arriaga and Julian Vasquez seek to establishing a starting role in light of the recent departure of a number of older players, the injury to Ricardo Avila, and the absence of team scoring leader Douglas Martinez, who is with the U-23 Honduran squad for Olympic qualifiers in Central America. Maikel Chang and captain Jack Blake with add experience and leadership.
You can stream the action live at 7:30 MDT on ESPN+ or catch up later after spending the evening at Rio Tinto watching RSL and Minnesota United face off.