HERRIMAN, Utah – Maikel Chang, Tate Schmitt and Jack Blake led the way as No. 4 seed Real Monarchs SLC earned its first postseason victory in club history with an emphatic 6-2 victory against a No. 5 seed Orange County SC that was reduced to 10 men early in the second half on Saturday afternoon at Zions Bank Stadium to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs.
The Monarchs will either visit No. 1 seed Phoenix Rising FC or play host to No. 8 seed Austin Bold FC in the next round.
The Monarchs had the better of the early exchanges and took the lead in the 13th minute. Chang slipped Douglas Martinez into the right side of the penalty area, and the Honduran forward’s shot went across the face of goal and was retrieved by Schmitt on the left side. Chang quickly made a cutting run toward the near post and was found by a low pass by Schmitt for a first-time finish to the right corner.
Orange County’s first good look on goal came four minutes later as Michael Seaton’s shot from outside the penalty area clipped the right side-netting, and the Monarchs had Blake clip the top of the crossbar with a free kick from 20 yards as he tried to pick out the top-left corner.
Real doubled its lead in the 28th minute, though, as Chang stole possession from Orange County defender Walker Hume, broke forward toward the penalty area, delayed to wait for support from Martinez and then provided a perfect pass for the Honduran international to shoot home first time into the right corner.
Real Monarchs SLC's Maikel Chang celebrates scoring the opening goal of his side's victory against Orange County SC on Saturday afternoon. | Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
Orange County hit back in spectacular fashion seven minutes later as a chipped ball into the penalty area was knocked down by Hume in the left side, was redirected by a Monarchs defender and set up perfectly for Michael Orozco to fire home a scissor-kick finish from the right into the top-left corner of the net. The visitors threatened to equalize shortly before halftime, too, as Seaton flicked a header just wide of the right post off a cross from the left by Joe Amico.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men four minutes into the second half, however, as Harry Forrester received his second yellow card after a foul on Real’s Kyle Coffee, but after coming on as a halftime substitute OCSC’s Darwin Jones curled a shot just wide of the top-right corner in the 57th minute.
The Monarchs regained their two-goal advantage a minute later, though, as Schmitt got in behind the defense on a fine ball by Justin Portillo, and while his initial cross didn’t find a target the clearance by Hume came straight to the left back, who was able to scramble the ball in front of the net for Blake to put home.
Orange County had chances to get back into the game, in the 65th minute Seaton beat Real goalkeeper David Ochoa to a free kick but Giovanni Ramos Godoy was unable to put his chance on target. Seaton then had a chance of his own with a first-time finish at the near post after a cross from the left by Jones that was cleared off the line by Schmitt.
But Schmitt then made an impact again in the attacking half as the Monarchs put the game away with 13 minutes to go. The former University of Louisville standout broke forward centrally to take a chipped pass from Chang and lashed a finish into the top-left corner of the net that effectively sealed the result.
The goals weren’t over, though, and Real added a fifth in the 81st minute as Portillo’s free kick from the left was headed home by an unmarked Erik Holt before Blake added another in the 90th minute on his second goal of the game, a low curling shot to the right corner of the net that saw Schmitt pick up his third assist. Orange County had the final goal of the contest when Seaton tucked home a cross by Jones from the left, but Real had already booked its place in the next round.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Tate Schmitt, Real Monarchs SLC – Schmitt had one goal, three assists and a crucial goal-line clearance to help lead the Monarchs’ first postseason victory.