The Monarchs will take the field on Saturday with a chance to extend their lead on top of the table before a two week break followed by a difficulty road swing through south Texas with matches against San Antonio and Rio Grande Valley.
Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson will bring a young Sounders 2 club with a large number of new faces for 2017 into Rio Tinto in search of some consistency and determination. The Sounders 2017 season has been a mix of good hardworking efforts to grind out a result and matches where it seems the team decides to take a week off. His squad went into Toyota Field and emerged with a 0-0 draw against the tough San Antonio defense, but they also went into Greater Nevada Field and lost 6-0 against expansion side Reno 1868 FC.
Tyler Miller, a 24-year-old goalkeeper down from the parent Sounders club, and Brian Meredith have four clean sheets between them and lead a good defensive group. Samuel Rogers, a 17-year-old converted defensive midfielder has been the anchor in central defense partnering with Riley Grant and 19-year-old Rodrigue Ele. Brian Nana-Sinkam and 19-year-old Nouhou Tolo have each netted goals while playing as fullbacks in the four man defensive line.
Regardless of how they are listed in the lineup, Sounders 2 play a five man midfield with Francisco Narbon and Ray Saari handling the defensive side and David Olsen, Zach Mathers, who leads the team with 6 goals, and a changing list of other players pushing forward on offense.
Irvin Parra with five goals is the sole returning player from last year and has the most time as the sole striker although Seyi Adekoya and 18-year-old Felix Chenkam have started matches up top.
The Monarchs are still missing players due to injury and are coming off a Wednesday night match. Chandler Hoffman, who leads the team with 10 goals, played only the second half and should see time again on Saturday. The heart of the Monarchs defense also should be represented by Max Lachowecki, Kyle Curinga, Taylor Peay, James Mosberg and captain Nick Besler.
Hopefully Chase Minter, Daniel Haber and Andrew Brody can also get back into the scoring race with a strong effort up top.
The Monarchs even up the all time series with Sounders 2 at 2-2-1 with the victory earlier this year at Tukwila. With a draw and victory at Rio Tinto over the past two years they can take the advantage in the series with another victory.
What to watch for
With their five man midfield Seattle looks to jam up the midfield and look for counter-attack chances at the goal. Hendrickson has shown a tendency to substitute heavily on the offensive side to get fresh speedy legs on the pitch late. The Sounders will be content to allow the Monarchs the bulk of the possession as long as it remains outside of the attacking third.
It will be up to the Monarchs to push hard and consistently through out the match and force the Sounders out of their comfort zone. The Sounders have a history of never performing well at altitude and have mentally checked out when falling behind in previous matches. If the Monarchs can seize momentum early and force the visitors to work on the defensive side they have a excellent chance at their 10th straight home victory.
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Sparrow; Curinga, Moberg, Peay, Lachowecki; Besler, Hanlin; Minter, Hernandez, Brody; Hoffman
Seattle Sounders 2 FC: (4-5-1): Miller; Nana-Sinkam, Rodgers, Ele, Tolo; Narbon, Saan, Olsen, Mathers, Hopeau; Parra
When: Saturday, July 8, 7:00pm MDT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT
Weather: 97 degrees, Sunny