Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
SANDY, Utah – Real Monarchs SLC scored twice in the opening 10 minutes on its way to a 4-2 victory against the Portland Timbers 2 in its home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The Monarchs got off to an ideal start as Nick Besler flicked home a corner kick from the left by Pablo Ruiz in just the third minute, and four minutes later Kalen Ryden added a second in similar fashion as he headed home Justin Portillo’s corner kick from the right at the back post. Ryden and Portillo connected again in the 32nd minute off a free kick as Ryden headed home from the corner of the six-yard area. Portland pulled a goal back three minutes later as Jeremy Ebobisse put home his own rebound from close range, and then got within a goal in the 59th minute when Victor Arboleda won the race to a ball over the top by Andre Lewis and finished. The Monarchs restored their two-goal lead in the 66th minute, however, as Sebastian Velasquez produced a good individual finish which wrapped up the victory for the hosts.
3’ – SLC – Nick Besler (Pablo Ruiz)
7’ – SLC – Kalen Ryden (Justin Portillo)
32’ – SLC – Kalen Ryden (Justin Portillo)
35’ – POR – Jeremy Ebobisse
59’ – POR – Victor Arboleda (Andre Lewis)
66’ – SLC – Sebastian Velasquez (Josh Heard)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Real Monarchs SLC was one of the most efficient sides in the USL a season ago from set pieces, finishing tied for the league-lead with 11 assists on set piece goals in the regular season. On Saturday that proficiency from dead balls made the difference again as the hosts converted three times to carry the day against T2. After Maikel Chang’s two assists a week ago against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, against Portland it was fellow former Charleston Battery midfielder Justin Portillo’s turn to shine as he twice produced perfect deliveries for Kalen Ryden to convert, another sign that the Monarchs are picking up where they left off a year ago.
2. Portland battled back admirably to try and take something from the game and almost caused some nerves to flutter when Victor Arboleda scored just before the hour-mark to make it a one-goal game. T2’s winless streak on the road in Utah ended up continuing, however, with the Monarchs now 3-0-2 all time on home turf against Portland.
3. Saturday was not only the Monarchs’ home opener, it was also a day for the club to pay tribute to former assistant coach Liam Miller, who passed away this offseason of cancer aged only 36. Wearing green “LM” patches on their sleeves, the players paid tribute to the former Celtic FC, Manchester United and Republic of Ireland international who had worked alongside Mark Briggs a season ago, and then paid tribute to Miller with a victory that he would have been proud of on the field as well.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kalen Ryden, Real Monarchs SLC – Ryden scored a pair of set-piece goals on four shots on goal overall, while also notching three interceptions and three clearances for the Monarchs.
Real Monarchs SLC at Phoenix Rising FC – April 7, 10 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex
Portland Timbers 2 at Tulsa Roughnecks FC – April 4, 8 p.m. ET, ONEOK Field