Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
SANDY, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC and Orange County SC played to a 0-0 draw on Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium as the Western Conference-leading Monarchs’ winless streak stretched to four games. The Monarchs’ Sebastian Velasquez forced the first good save of the night as he wriggled out of pressure in midfield, drove forward and fired low to the right corner as OCSC’s Charlie Lyon got down well to keep the game scoreless in the eighth minute. Velasquez went close again, only for Lyon to deny his shot to the top-right corner soon after as the hosts continued to carry much of the play. OCSC’s first good look on goal arrived in the 24th minute as James Baxendale forced a save by Real goalkeeper Connor Sparrow, and that sparked a good spell for Orange County but it was Real that again almost took the lead in the 36th minute when Dylan Mare screwed a shot wide of the right post after a clever through-ball by Velasquez. The Monarchs continued to assert themselves early in the second half, and Lyon turned aside a fierce shot by Danny Cruz at his near post from the right side of the penalty area in the 50th minute. Mare also headed just wide of the left post after a short corner gave Daniel Haber a chance to chip in a cross from the left, and OCSC’s Wuilito Fernandes had to clear Max Lachowecki’s header off the line in the 65th minute as the hosts continued to hold the upper hand. But Orange County held defensively, and a deflected shot by Carlos Alvarez just looped over the net for the visitors with five minutes to go to almost steal a victory. Real’s Emilio Orozco went close on a near-post header from a free kick from the left in the 90th minute, but the Monarchs couldn’t find a breakthrough as the game ended scoreless.
Three Things That Matter:
1. Real dominated all facets of the game, but was again unable to take victory as its winless streak stretched to four games after a frustrating night against Orange County’s obstinate defense. The Monarchs are now only three points clear of Louisville City FC ahead of the Eastern Conference-leader’s visit to Ottawa Fury FC on Sunday, and also left the door open for both San Antonio FC and Reno 1868 FC to gain ground on Saturday night. There were plenty of positives to take from the display, but until the Monarchs pick up a win there are going to be questions about momentum as they head toward the playoffs.
2. The Monarchs shook up their attacking group after a disappointing display that saw the side record only one shot on goal last Saturday night against Phoenix, and the focus certainly seemed to return in the final third as the side looked dangerous throughout the first half. If not for a sharp display by Charlie Lyon in the OCSC goal, Real would have taken the lead before the break. Head Coach Mark Briggs’ move didn’t pay off with a goal in the first 45 minutes, but it showed the depth the side has thanks to its recent additions means everyone in the squad will need to be on their toes to earn playing time from here on out.
3. Orange County was unable to move back into the top eight in the Western Conference after Friday night’s draw, but becoming only the third side to take points away from a visit to Rio Tinto Stadium will probably be a good enough return from the contest as the visitors had to battle hard defensively throughout the contest. While Charlie Lyon was again at the top of his game, the collective effort to deny crosses and then clear 11 corner kicks over the course of the contest was impressive as OCSC did enough to earn its point.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Charlie Lyon, Orange County SC – Lyon turned in a seven-save shutout, including a pair of crucial early saves to deny Real’s Sebastian Velasquez in the opening 10 minutes, to lead his side to a draw on the road.
Real Monarchs SLC at Sacramento Republic FC – September 27, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Orange County SC at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – September 30, 8 p.m. ET, Weidner Field