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How a motley crew of MLS castoffs revolutionized Real Monarchs

Some players just need another chance.

Sebastian Velasquez playing for Real Monarchs. John Engels Photography

Real Monarchs have been nothing sort of amazing in 2017, and they’ve now sealed their spot in the record books with their ninth consecutive win — their 13th of the season.

They’ve played 14 games.

It’s clear that something has changed, and it’s not something that can just be explained by coaching. Mark Briggs has been an excellent coach during his short time here, but the makeup of the team isn’t just his, and it isn’t just Mike Petke’s. And it certainly doesn’t just belong to head scout Andy Williams, general manager Craig Waibel, or Real Monarchs GM Elliott Fall.

It’s one of those instances of everyone having to work extremely hard as a group to create an environment where these players could succeed, and it’s an instance of the players doing just that.

So how’d they do it? The front office has put together a team of MLS castoffs and young Americans with international experience, and a handful of important players who fit a more traditional mold.

Each of these players could find themselves in MLS, whether it’s this season, next season, or a few years from now. It’s what makes this roster so interesting.

Let’s go through some of the standouts in each category.

The MLS Castoffs

  • Taylor Peay, 25, was a second-round draft pick for Portland Timbers in 2014, and in the three years in which he was contracted with the team, he played only seven MLS matches. He didn’t have too many more for Portland Timbers 2. He’s already scored twice for Real Monarchs.
  • Nick Besler, 24, was the fifth overall pick in 2015, going to Portland Timbers. He played plenty of minutes for Portland Timbers 2, but never earned a single MLS minute under Timbers coach Caleb Porter. He’s been a big part of the Monarchs spine, and his midfield breakup play is quite good.
  • Sebastian Velasquez, 26, is a name Real Salt Lake fans know well, and given how quickly he’s taken to Real Monarchs, one would hope he gets an opportunity to stay in the city for a good while longer. He’s an intensely hard-working player these days, and he has excellent vision. When those factors are paired with his long-standing ability to keep the ball, you end up with a very strong player. He’s leading from the midfield, and he has six assists and six goals.
  • Chandler Hoffman, 26, started his professional career in 2012 with Philadelphia Union. He played two years at LA Galaxy, 2013 and 2014. In 2015, he signed with Houston Dynamo. In 2016, Louisville City. And while he looked good before, he’s been undroppable now. Hoffman has scored at an incredible clip for Real Monarchs, scoring 8 goals in 13 games played.

The Young International Americans

  • Kyle Curinga, 23, played for three years after college in Finland, and he’s locked down a spot at full back for Real Monarchs.
  • Daniel Haber, 25, played in Cyprus and Israel before joining USL side Vancouver Whitecaps 2. As a winger, he’s found himself on the scoresheet several times, but his impact isn’t just goal-bound — he’s helping push the attack further up the field consistently. He also created some strange card game the whole team plays, and Sebastian Velasquez calls him the smartest player on the team. I guess if you play soccer at Cornell, that’s not going to be too unusual if you go pro, right?

The Traditionalists

  • Charlie Adams, 23, started his professional career in England, but he’s since come to the States — a 2015 spell at Louisville City started things off, and he joined Real Monarchs in 2016 after playing at English side Stevenage. He’s got an incredible delivery on free kicks.
  • James Moberg, 23, is a second-year professional, having joined Real Monarchs last year after not being picked up by Vancouver Whitecaps, despite being drafted by them.
  • Andrew Brody, 22, is a zippy winger from the RSL Academy, and he’s long been considered a player that could make an impact at RSL in his career.
  • Max Lachowecki, 24, was drafted by Real Salt Lake and signed by Real Monarchs in 2016. He’s become an important player on the team, as he helps to lock down wins week-in, week-out.