Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
Real Monarchs SLC made a historic turnaround in 2017 as the club not only reached the USL Cup Playoffs for the first time in its history but also earned its first ever piece of silverware, winning the USL Regular Season Championship with two games to spare. A strong home record that saw the Monarchs claim a league-leading 12 wins at Rio Tinto Stadium paved the way to the championship for the side as it lose only one match at home all season.
With a revamped squad that brought 12 new players aboard, and a new coaching staff led initially by Mike Petke before Mark Briggs took the Head Coaching position following Petke's promotion to become Real Salt Lake's Head Coach, the Monarchs got standout production from USL All-League First Team selections Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez. Unfortunately for the Monarchs all their great regular season work didn’t play off in the USL Cup Playoffs as defeat in a penalty shootout to Sacramento Republic FC saw the side become the second consecutive No. 1-seed to be eliminated in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the postseason.
Record: 20-5-7, 67pts
Place: First in the Western Conference
Goals For: 59
Goals Against: 31
USL Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Quarterfinals (L 1-1 AET, 3-1 on penalties vs. Sacramento Republic FC)
2017 leaders: Chandler Hoffman (16 goals), Charlie Adams (8 assists), Connor Sparrow (67 saves)
It was an incredible season for Real Monarchs SLC, with the addition of Chandler Hoffman and his 16 goals proving crucial as the club won the USL Regular Season Championship. The Monarchs took control of the race to the regular season title with a league-record nine-game winning streak early in the season, from where they wouldn't trail at the top of the Western Conference for the remainder of the season. Beginning with a 3-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC 2 on April 22nd, the Monarchs didn't drop any points for the next two months until a 1-1 draw with Phoenix Rising FC on June 24th.
The Monarchs had a chance at setting both the record for total wins in a regular season, and overall points, but a four-match win-less streak that began with a dramatic 2-1 loss to San Antonio FC on September 2nd for their only home defeat of the season left the side just short of the New York Red Bulls II's marks in both categories. But while that was a minor disappointment, the Monarchs' loss in the opening game of the postseason in a penalty shootout to Sacramento Republic FC – which had suffered the same fate a year previously as a No. 1-seed itself – brought a premature end to a season that had seen the side put a major mark on the league.
Daniel Haber picked up possession, and then picked his head up before unleashing a perfect shot into the right corner of the net, sending it over the goalkeeper to begin a comeback 2-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC.
Andrew Putna saved both penalty kicks he faced as a back-up to Connor Sparrow over the course of the season, and against Reno 1868 FC's Antoine Hoppenot recovered well to make a second stop as the hosts were unable to put away the rebound.