Real Monarchs SLC fielded a young side against OKC Energy FC with Luis Arriaga, Sebastian Vazquez and David Ochoa down on assignment from RSL joining fellow academy product Jordan Pena. Martinez, Chang, Blake, Powder, Ryden, Plewa and Moberg rounded out the starting 11 and provided a experienced defensive core.
Despite having 58 percent possession through the first half, the Monarchs struggled for connection in the offensive third as they failed to effectively involve leading scorer Douglas Martinez with long high balls. The height and experience of central defenders Christian Ibeagha and Atiba Harris worked to the advantage of the Energy as they connected for good opportunities on quick scramble attacks and seemed the more dangerous side.
It was only in the final ten minutes that the Monarchs combined for several good chances of their own forcing saves from Cody Laurendi and pulling the Energy front line back into more extended defensive duties. In the closing seconds of the first half, the Monarchs sent a corner kick into the boxes and, after a glancing touch by James Moberg, 6’4” Konrad Plewa got his feet up in a bicycle kick that found the ball and gave the home team a 1-0 lead going in for the half.
The second half opened much as the first with the Energy on their front foot and showing all the urgency on display. The Monarchs fell back into a more passive mode and a call for a possible penalty call against Ochoa in the box only served to further move them into a more compact defensive stance. In the 52 minute, the Energy broke through to tie the score on another corner kick that bounced around some in the box and then went into the back on a score awarded to Rafael Garcia.
This allowed the OKC to fall back into their blocks and the game slowed down with a lot of meaningless possession by the Monarchs as both sides seemed content to wait for a mistake by the other. In the 68th minute Moberg took a hard double knock on the head on yet another corner kick and remain down on the ground. After a pause of nearly five minutes, James got up and walked off under his own power and was replaced by another academy product in Steve Jasso.
On the subsequent reset, Douglas Martinez nearly snuck in a quick go-ahead goal and the Monarchs seemed to find some missing urgency. Just as several more substitutes lined up with the fourth official Maikel Chang moved into a more central role and lofted a nice ball into Martinez for an easy finish to pull out to a 2-1 lead at the 78th minute.
OKC Energy immediately ramped up the energy and just as Luiz Palma replaced Julian Vazquez in the 80th minute Deshorn Brown responded with a equally well designed goal to tie the match back up at 2.
Christian Calix came in as the Monarchs’ final substitute in place of Luis Arriaga in the 87th minute to add some fresh legs, but the patience and calm of the experienced OKC veterans allowed them to safely see out six minutes of stoppage time and take a point home from Utah.