Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
SANDY, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC claimed the 2017 USL Regular Season Championship with a 1-1 draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium for the first trophy in the club’s history. The Monarchs almost struck in the fifth minute, but WFC2 goalkeeper Mark Village got down well to deny Daniel Haber on a low shot from the right side of the penalty area, but the hosts took the lead in the 16th minute when Sebastian Velasquez got possession on the right, and despite the attention of two defenders Velasquez squeezed home a low shot into the right corner of the net. Sebastian Saucedo went close four minutes later for the Monarchs as he cut in from the left but couldn’t quite find the right corner with his finish, but three minutes later Vancouver went close to an equalizer as Thomas Sanner’s powerful header was saved by Andrew Putna. WFC2 did level three minutes into the second half as a low cross from the right side by Marco Bustos was redirected into his own net by Monarchs defender James Moberg as he attempted to clear. The Monarchs looked to get back on top through Saucedo, who had a chance saved just past the hour-mark and then fired high and wide on another opportunity a minute later, but with 14 minutes to go Real was reduced to 10 men as Demar Phillips was sent off. Vancouver was unable to take advantage, however, as the Monarchs saw out the draw and lifted the first silverware of the regular season.
16’ – SLC – Sebastian Velasquez (Sebastian Saucedo)
48’ – VAN – James Moberg (own goal)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Monarchs had technically claimed the USL Regular Season Championship before it wrapped up the point it needed going into the night as soon as the game between San Antonio FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies ended in a draw. While that was the case, going in and getting the result the side needed – even if it wasn’t the win the season-high crowd had been looking for – will have felt good as the side claimed the first silverware of the season. Saturday’s performance wasn’t a vintage Real performance, but it was enough to ensure a big celebration at Rio Tinto Stadium.
2. While eliminated from playoff contention a few weeks ago, Vancouver more than played their part on the night in a good performance that showed the sides fight had never left it even though it wouldn’t have a chance to return to the Western Conference Final of the USL Cup Playoffs again this year. The young talent on WFC2 has plenty to look forward to, and hopefully will take positives from a good performance on the road on Saturday night.
3. For the first four seasons of league history, claiming the USL Regular Season Championship had proven somewhat of a curse as the team to lift the first silverware failed to reach the USL Cup Final each year. After the Rochester Rhinos and New York Red Bulls II both broke that curse in the past two seasons, the pressure will now be on the Monarchs as they welcome teams to Rio Tinto Stadium starting in two weeks. As tough as the Western Conference has proven this season, it won’t be an easy task to become the third consecutive team to do the regular season and playoff double, but you’d imagine it’ll be one the side is looking forward to greatly.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sebastian Velasquez, Real Monarchs SLC – Velasquez scored the opening goal for the Monarchs, and put in a dynamic attacking display overall as he created three other scoring chances and knocked the ball around efficiently otherwise.
Real Monarchs SLC vs. LA Galaxy II – October 14, 9 p.m. ET, Rio Tinto Stadium
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Orange County SC – October 13, 10 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium