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Picking a Combined USL Championship Final XI

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 11/13/19, 11:18AM EST

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Which players might start in a lineup comprised of Louisville, Monarchs players?

Louisville City FC and Real Monarchs SLC have risen above their respective conferences to meet in this Sunday’s 2019 USL Championship Final. Players on both sides have put in standout performances over the regular season and playoffs to earn this chance, with LouCity going for its third consecutive league title and the Monarchs aiming to add to their previous silverware.

But if you were pushed to answer the question, which players would be part of a combined starting lineup between the two squads?

Here, we take a look at the game position by position in a 4-2-3-1 formation that has been favored by both over the course of the season and make a case as to which position would be filled by one of the players set to feature this weekend.

Goalkeeper - David Ochoa

Real Monarchs SLC

It’s hard to look past both the present and the future with Ochoa, who featured for the U.S. U-20 National Team this past spring and has put in a stellar first full professional campaign for the Monarchs, even with as solid as Chris Hubbard has been in LouCity’s goal.

Left Back – Noah Powder

Real Monarchs SLC

Now in his fourth Championship campaign, the 21-year-old Powder helped Orange County to top spot in the Western Conference before joining the Monarchs this season, where he’s been a solid addition to the back line with 44 interceptions and can get forward to join the attack.

Center Back – Paco Craig

Louisville City FC

With a third consecutive All-League selection announced on Tuesday, Craig has rightly earned a reputation as one of the top center backs in the Championship that makes life miserable for opposing forwards.

Center Back – Kalen Ryden

Real Monarchs SLC

Ryden doesn’t just bring effectiveness in the middle of defense for the Monarchs, but also a keen eye for goal when called upon for set pieces. With nine goals over the past two seasons as well as being a plus-player defensively, the 28-year-old gets the nod here.

Right Back – Oscar Jimenez

Louisville City FC

Jimenez recently passed 100 appearances for LouCity, having been one of the most consistent presences in the side since he joined before the 2017 season. With 90 chances created and seven assists this season, he’s not only a solid defender, but also a key dead-ball specialist.

Central Midfield – Speedy Williams

Louisville City FC

The Jamaican international isn’t going to overwhelm you with his physicality, but the smoothness and ability to read the game Williams brings is top-level. His passing accuracy rate of 85.1 percent on 62.6 passes per 90 minutes keeps the action moving for his side.

Central Midfield – Justin Portillo

Real Monarchs SLC

Portillo has long been one of the best connecting midfielders in the Championship going back to his days with the Charleston Battery and joining the Monarchs on loan from Real Salt Lake has shown off more of the same. A 90.5 percent passing accuracy rate on a team-high 60.6 passes per 90 minutes plus his dead-ball ability earn a spot here.

Left Wing – Brian Ownby

Louisville City FC

The thing about Brian Ownby is his numbers rarely tell the tale of the impact he has over a game, but over the past three seasons he’s been Mr. Playoffs for LouCity, coming up with the clutch goal, assist or pass that has made the difference in the club’s remarkable postseason runs.

Attacking Midfield – Magnus Rasmussen

Louisville City FC

This was the toughest decision to make, with Jack Blake also having had a stellar season for the Monarchs, but it’s hard to argue with the All-League First Team selection earning this spot. With a team-high 16 goals and three assists, Rasmussen has come to the fore this season for LouCity.

Right Wing – Maikel Chang

Real Monarchs SLC

With 15 goals and a team-high eight assists, Chang has continued to shine for the Monarchs while also taking the mantle as the Championship’s all-time regular season assists leader. The Cuban winger has recorded 75 chances created this season and makes the Monarchs tick in the attacking third alongside Blake.

Center Forward – Luke Spencer

Louisville City FC

With Real’s Douglas Martinez ruled out via suspension, Spencer gets the nod to lead the line after another solid season in LouCity’s colors. The scorer of the lone goal in the 2018 Championship Final, Spencer’s hold-up play has been an underrated aspect of his game, allowing LouCity’s talented attacking midfield to make the most of the attention he draws.

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