HERRIMAN, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC earned its second victory of the season with a 1-0 win against Tacoma Defiance on Friday night at Zions Bank Stadium, reducing its deficit to the second-placed El Paso Locomotive FC to eight points in the Group C standings.
Following the opening minutes of the contest, between 7:00 and 8:46 of the match, players from both sides came together at the center circle, united against racism, and in support of equality, diversity and compassion.
In the game, both teams hit the woodwork inside the opening 15 minutes. First after the Monarchs won a corner kick on the right, Jack Blake’s delivery found Nicolas Gimenez alone for a header near the penalty spot that was parried onto the crossbar by Tacoma goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky in the 12th minute before being hustled behind for another corner.
Off the ensuing set piece, however, the Defiance broke out on the counterattack after a good punch by Klenofsky at the top of his six-yard area. Azriel Gonzalez released Marlon Vargas into space at speed in the right channel but his low shot caromed off the left post. The rebound came to Alec Diaz for a first-time effort, but Real’s Luis Arriaga got enough of the shot to deflect it wide for a corner.
Arriaga then made his presence felt at the other end of the field as the Monarchs took the lead in the 26th minute. After working possession on the right, the ball came to Dayonn Harris, whose whipped cross was flicked home at the near post by Arriaga with a nicely directed header into the left corner.
Blake almost added to the Monarchs’ lead after a good piece of interplay with Arriaga at the top of the penalty area, but Real’s captain was unable to control his finish as it flashed just over the crossbar. Noah Powder also went close from distance two minutes before halftime with a powerful shot that rattled the stanchion beyond the right post, flying just wide of the top-right corner.
Real held its lead into the second half, and almost added a second in the 61st minute when Powder played a good angled pass from the left channel to Ryan Sierakowski as he moved into the right side of the penalty area, but a heavy first touch allowed the Tacoma defense to recover and hustle the ball away for a corner.
The Defiance had a pair of big chances late on to find an equalizer with five minutes to go as Gonzalez gained possession in the left side of the penalty area and turned inside his marker, but Monarchs goalkeeper Jimmy Slayton produced a good initial save and then followed up to smother the rebound as Danny Robles tried to convert the opportunity. That would be the last big chance for the visitors, though, as Real earned a big victory to keep its postseason hopes alive.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Luis Arriaga, Real Monarchs SLC – Arriaga recorded the lone goal of the game, and came up with a key block in the first half when the game was scoreless in addition to recording three key passes and completing 27 of 34 passes overall.