TACOMA, Wash. – Having suffered a preseason injury that set back his preparations after joining Real Monarchs SLC this offseason, Masta Kacher was unable to make much impact in his first appearance for the club, finishing without a shot against the Portland Timbers 2 on March 31 before being substituted just past the hour-mark.
On Wednesday night, handed his second start of the season by Head Coach Mark Briggs, it didn’t take long for the 22-year-old Canadian to make his presence felt for his new side. Just four minutes in Kacher fired home a beautiful finish to open Real’s 3-1 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Cheney Stadium that earned the visitors a fourth consecutive win to start 2018.
“To be fair, it’s a big relief,” said Kacher. “First of all, the injury got me outside the field for the preseason, so I’m just trying to catch the fitness and the game rhythm. And those two goals, they help a lot, but the most opportune thing today was the three points and the way the team showed.”
Kacher struck twice on the night, scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 65th minute after S2 had equalized midway through the first half. The fourth victory in a row established a new mark for the Monarchs, who are on the best opening to a season in the club’s history, with the side also only two wins back of the best start to a season by any side in the USL’s modern era.
The Monarchs were tested by Seattle, though, with the hosts having more than the measure of the game in the first half after David Estrada’s third goal of the season put them back on level terms.
“I thought they dominated us, to be honest, for the last 30 minutes of the first half,” said Monarchs Head Coach Mark Briggs. “We reshuffled things at halftime and reorganized. The intensity, the level was a little bit better. Then Sebastian [Velasquez] and Chandler [Hoffman] came in and affected the game for us. It was very professional, and it was a good three points.”
Hoffman’s goal with 13 minutes to go off Velasquez’s assist was the forward’s 49th regular-season goal in his USL career, giving him the chance to become only the third player to reach 50 in the league’s modern era after current D.C. United forward Dane Kelly and the Charlotte Independence’s Jorge Herrera.
The chance to reach that mark will arrive in just over a week when the Monarchs head to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a marquee interconference clash at Al Lang Stadium.
Going into this weekend’s action on top of the Western Conference having used the depth at his disposal after another big road victory this past Saturday in Phoenix, Briggs was pleased to see the side maintain its strong run to start the defense of its USL Regular Season championship in such style.
“I think we said all along that it’s a squad game,” said Briggs. “I thought Ricky [Lopez-Espin] and Jose [Hernandez] – it was their first 90 minutes in a while – I thought they did well. And then integrating other players. [James] Moberg got 90 minutes, so it was good to see. Masta [Kacher] got two goals – two very good goals. As a whole, it was pleasing, putting a guy another 90 minutes under his belt.
“That’s why we’ve got the squad we have, so we can rotate things at times when we feel we need to freshen it up.”