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Real Monarchs SLC vs. Portland Timbers 2 preview: It’s finally here

Mike Petke’s new look 2017 Real Monarchs open the season at Providence Park in Portland.

MLS: Sporting KC at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

“Real” games are finally back as a healthy Real Monarchs squad with no major injuries travels to Portland’s Providence Park for their 2017 season opener against Portland Timbers 2.

Both squads, and the league as well, have undergone major changes since the end of the 2016 season. In January 2017, USL received provisional Division II status from US Soccer ushering a new focus on professionalism and infrastructure throughout the league. The Monarchs return only 7 players from their 2016 squad while Timbers 2 have return even fewer players. Three 2016 Timbers, Nick Besler, Michael Gallagher, and Taylor Peay now call the Monarchs home while Monarch Christian Herrera is on loan to the Timbers 2 for the 2017 season.

Teams history

Going into their third season in USL both squads have yet to finish with a winning record or qualify for a playoff spot in the postseason. Last season the Monarchs finished with a 10-14-6 record at 11th place in the Western Conference while the Timbers missed a playoff spot by goal differential with a 12-14-4 record.

Neither team has yet to demonstrate an ability to compete week in and week end over the long USL season as they attempt to establish a workable balance between development of young players and the steady lineup needed to establish identity and chemistry.

Match history

The Monarchs trail Timbers 2 in their all time series 1-2-2 with the Monarch’s only victory coming in their last meeting on August 17th of last year at Rio Tinto Stadium. They have three matches scheduled in 2017 with the first and last at Providence Park and the middle at Rio Tinto.

The Monarch’s 2-1 victory came as a result of an early goal by Mikey Orellana in the 13th minute involving defender Michael Gallagher who is now a Monarch. Timbers 2 responded in the 70th minute on a goal by Blake Bodily to tie up the score before an on goal by Viliyan Bizhev in the 86th minute game the Monarchs a victory.

Expected lineups

Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Fernandez; Curinga, Brody, Orozco, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Haber, Velasquez, Minter; Hoffman

Timbers 2: (4-4-2): McIntosh; Jimenez, Clarke, Amick, Bjornethun; Brett, Granitto, Mohamed, Bijev; Ebobisse, Williams

Match info

When: Saturday, March 25, 8:30pm MT

Where: Providence Park — Portland, OR

Weather: 50 degrees, Mostly Cloudy