Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
HERRIMAN, Utah – Richie Ledezma scored his first professional goal as USL Western Conference leader Real Monarchs SLC took a 2-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Monday night at Zions Bank Stadium. The teams exchanged chances early as the Monarchs’ Charlie Adams forced a low save by RGVFC goalkeeper Nico Corti and the Toros’ Jordan Jones had a close-range finish blocked, but the hosts took the lead in the 25th minute when Chandler Hoffman got in behind the Toros’ defense and cut back a pass to Ledezma that the U.S. U20 international slotted home for his first professional goal. The Monarchs almost added to their lead early in the second half as a free kick by Adams was just tipped over the crossbar by Corti, and from the ensuing corner kick a header by Kalen Ryden came back off the left post and was cleared. Hoffman was also denied by Corti 10 minutes after the break with a low save after a quick move gave the forward space to shoot, but a minute after sending a shot just wide of the right post, Masta Kacher put home a second for Real with 20 minutes to go as he found the right side of the net after creating just enough space off a cross by Ledezma from the right. Real looked to add to its lead late on, and debutant Glademir Mendoza had a pair of late chances to make his mark, but the Monarchs settled for a comfortable victory that saw the side move seven points clear of its rivals in the Western Conference.
25’ – SLC – Richie Ledezma (Chandler Hoffman)
70’ – SLC – Masta Kacher
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Monarchs continued to build their lead at the top of the Western Conference with a solid display that saw the hosts control much of the game and put home a pair of finishes that allowed the side to cruise to victory. The experience in the middle of the field for Real was at the center of its control of the game, with both Justin Portillo and Charlie Adams setting the tempo for the hosts, while Adams’ set piece deliveries helped account for five key passes that could have seen the Monarchs score more. The display didn’t have much flash to it, but it didn’t need to as Real became the first side to 10 wins this regular season.
2. Richie Ledezma likely wasn’t expecting to play the role in the Monarchs’ victory he did, but after the U.S. U20 international was introduced as a first-half substitute for Sebastian Velasquez he picked up the baton and ran with it, notching his first professional goal in the process. The 17-year-old made his fifth appearance for Real on Monday night, two weeks after appearing for the USMNT U20s in Honduras, and once again looked composed beyond his years as the Monarchs didn’t really miss a beat despite the departure of one of their more influential players.
3. Chances for the Toros to find a foothold in the game were few and far between, and even when they arrived the visitors didn’t do a good enough job in taking advantage as their streak of five consecutive draws came to an end. RGVFC finished with only one shot on goal for the contest, and while it was likely going to be a big ask to pick up a win on the road against the defending USL Regular Season champions, the result put the previous run where the Toros were unable to claim all three points into an even starker spotlight.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Richie Ledezma, Real Monarchs SLC – Ledezma scored his first professional goal, and also provided the cross that led to Masta Kacher’s insurance marker, after coming on in the 17th minute as a substitute.
Real Monarchs SLC at Swope Park Rangers – June 13, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Park
Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Portland Timbers 2 – June 9, 8:30 p.m. ET, H-E-B Park