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Real Monarchs squad overview: Midfielders

Ahead of the USL and Real Monarchs’ season opener this weekend, here’s a brief look at the Monarchs midfielders and what we can hope to expect from each player this season.

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Lennon Celestino

The 24-year-old Sao Paulo native was signed in March of 2015 for the Monarchs’ inaugural season after playing professionally in Brazil. He played with NASL Miami FC (later rebranded as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers) in 2010 and 2011 before heading back to Brazil to play for União Barbarense from 2012-2015.

Last season: Playing more of a holding midfielder role, he didn’t score any goals but was a regular in the lineup, and when he wasn’t starting he was generally a sure thing coming off the bench. He showed great defensive prowess, chasing down balls in the defensive third and pushing them forward up the field.

What to expect: More of the same this year. Having played professionally for five years prior to coming to the Monarchs, he is experienced at a high level. He’s shown he is a technical player and will have the leadership skills necessary to bring his teammates together around him on the field.

Ricardo Velazco

Velazco, hailing from Arizona, spent two years at the Real Salt Lake AZ Academy before he went off to college at Cal State San Bernardino, and later transferred to the University of Louisville. He also played for FC Tuscon — a PDL team — where he was named PDL Young Player of the Year in 2014. He was signed in March of 2015 for the Monarchs’ inaugural USL season.

Last season: Ricardo finished his first season with the Monarchs with three goals in all competitions. His first goal came on May 20th in the US Open Cup against PDL side Long Island Rough Riders. He made 23 appearances and started in all of them.

What to expect: With the Monarchs making a few key moves ahead of the 2016 campaign, we can expect Velazco to be ready to take the season head on. Now having a year of experience under his belt with his fellow teammates and showing he can play as an attacking midfielder, we may even see more goals from this exciting young player.

Alec Sundly

23-year-old Alec Sundly from San Clemente, California, was drafted 31st overall by the New England Revolution in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. He was loaned out to USL side Rochester Rhinos for most of 2014 where he tallied two goals in 27 appearances.

Last Season: Sundly made 25 appearances and had 18 starts, and finished the season with one goal, which he scored on September 5th in the Monarchs’ 3-2 win over Arizona United.

What to expect: Like the rest of the young team, he has another year of USL experience and has had time to adapt to playing with a brand new team. He’s shown that he is capable of attacking and we can expect to see more of that type of play this coming season.

Edgar Duran

The 19-year-old was signed by the Monarchs in August of 2015 from the Real Salt Lake AZ Academy.

Last season: In his one year at the academy, he scored 24 goals in 42 games, including two goals in a friendly against the Monarchs with RSL’s U-18 side. He only made one appearance for the Monarchs for a total of three minutes since he came in near the end of the season.

What to expect: Based on his performance at the RSL-AZ Academy, it seems that we can expect goals. Being listed as a midfielder/forward on the Monarchs’ roster, he’s destined to play an attacking role no matter where he ends up on the field this season.

Amass Amankona

Amankona was drafted in the third round of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Real Salt Lake out of Dayton. A native of Ghana, the 20-year-old’s signing to the Monarchs was announced on March 17th, 2016.

Last season: Played in Dayton and scored 13 goals with five assists in 23 matches. He was named Atlantic 10 Conference MVP and Midfielder of the Year.

What to expect: What the 2016 season holds for Amass is somewhat of an unknown, being that all we have to go off of are some internet highlight reels and stats from his college years. We do know that he’s quick, very attacking-minded, and can score goals in the right situation.

Elder Torres

Elder Torres, a 20-year-old from Honduras, is a new signing who comes to the Monarchs on loan from Club Deportivo Social Vida. He made an appearance with Honduras in the 2015 U-20 World Cup and has also played three matches with the Honduras U-23 Olympic Qualifying team.

Last season: He made 18 appearances (13 starts) for Vida in the 2015/2016 season with no goals.

What to expect: Another somewhat unknown, Monarchs coach Freddy Juarez has said he’s an intelligent, technical player who can play as a center mid, or as a six or an eight position. Bringing some experience from an international level, he’ll be someone to keep an eye on in the 2016 season.