For the first time in its short history, Real Monarchs SLC have gone through a major turnover where many of the original players signed for their first USL season in 2015 were released.
It is very typical for USL players to be signed for only a single season or two during which they are expected to prove their worth or move on to another situation. This approach leads to a sort of juggling act where many experienced USL players bounce from team to team every season or two hoping to find their break and hook on.
For the Monarchs, who are owned and operated by Real Salt Lake, this also translates to a job with the parent club in MLS. Emery Welshman, following the 2015 season, and Ricardo Velazco, following the 2016 season, both received MLS contracts following successful seasons with the Monarchs.
Here are five Monarchs to watch during the upcoming 2017 season as they attempt to catch enough eyes to be the next player to find a way to the parent club.
The first player from Coach Greg Maas’ three year old NCAA team at UVU to ever sign a professional contract, Skyler has the physical tools to be a trailblazer for Utah soccer. The tallest Monarch at 6’4” and weighing 211 lbs, Milne was quite successful as a striker playing on top of the UVU offense in collegiate matches and has proven to be very good at scoring off balls in the air. If he can provide evidence that his skills translate to the USL level by providing competition for Chandler Hoffman during 2017, Milne will become a local feel good story and at least a talking point for future time with the parent club.
A former midfielder who made a very successful transition to right back while playing in Finland, Kyle has perhaps the clearest route to success with the parent club. Tony Beltran continues to age and has no established backup other than newly drafted Reagan Dunk. If Curinga makes the right back position on the Monarchs his own and shows better than Dunk in any direct competition, there is a very good chance he will remain in the claret and cobalt beyond the 2017 season.
Following two years on loan from the Timbers to Timbers 2 where he was a regular starter, Nick now understands that any future success at the MLS level will require him to dominate his position at the USL level. Look for him to be a starter in the Monarchs defensive midfield as he attempts to become the monster in that role that Kyle Beckerman has been for RSL over the past 10 years. He will need to compete favorably with Charlie Adams and Jesus Leal on the Monarchs and show his worth in any direct competition with Omar Holness.
A young Canadian who is a proven goal scorer from the right wing, Daniel has perhaps the second most open path to the first team. With Jordan Allan in his first season as a starter and Brooks Lennon currently on loan for only this season, it is quite possible that Haber could cap a strong showing for the Monarchs this season with a chance at first team minutes for the parent club next season. A repeat of the 8 goals he scored in USL last season as a Whitecap would match the total Ricardo Velazco posted last season in leading the Monarchs and winning a MLS contract.
Even after being drafted 21st overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by the Columbus Crew, Chase Minter failed to find any meaningful playing time last season. After being left unsigned by the Crew, Minter signed with the Sacramento Republic in the USL but managed only 6 appearances with another 3 while on loan to Tulsa. The leading scorer for the Monarchs during preseason, Chase has found his way into the starting lineup and looks to have finally found a place to demonstrate his skill and find notice on the left wing.
As new faces take over for several departing veterans and the Monarchs attempt to qualify for their first ever berth in the USL playoffs who would you like to see on the field?