Monarchs Return to Rio Tinto Stadium for only Home Match in First Five Outings to begin 2018;
Club Seeks to Improve Upon Undefeated 2-0-1 Record in Home-Opening Matches;
Utah Club Coming Off of Last-Gasp 3-2 Victory at Tulsa in Opening Match of 2018;
LIVE Coverage Begins at 1:00 p.m. MT on KMYU TV, ESPN 960 AM
HERRIMAN, Utah (Friday, March 29, 2018) – Real Monarchs SLC (1-0-0, 3 points, T-7 West) is set to open the home portion of its 2018 regular-season schedule on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium against Portland Timbers 2 with kickoff slated for 1:00 p.m. MT. Head Coach Mark Briggs will guide his team into the Sandy venue after leading his team to a narrow road victory last weekend in Tulsa. Saturday’s match will be the only home match for the Monarchs in its first five to open the season, with Saturday being the only home match between March 24 to April 21.
An “Easter Eggstravaganza” will take place at “The RioT” prior to the match beginning at 12:00 noon. Fans 12 and under can partake in a giant Easter egg hunt in and around the Sandy venue, as well as have their pictures taken with the Easter Bunny. Fans can purchase tickets at www.RealMonarchs.com, as well as purchase a special “Family 4-Pack” – 4 tickets & 4 FREE hot dogs – for just $24. Before the match, fans can purchase the “Merch-of-the-Match” at the stadium’s team store in the form of the newest Real Monarchs SLC scarves for just $15. In conjunction with purchasing scarves before the match, a moment of applause will be held prior to kickoff in memory of former Real Monarchs Assistant Coach Liam Miller. Teams will join together at the center circle prior to kickoff and at the referee’s whistle, a moment of applause will commence.
Additionally, in the 8th minute of play (7:00 – 7:59 on the game clock) a moment of silence will be held in Miller’s memory and fans are invited to stand and lift their scarves for the entirety of the game’s 8th minute. Miller – a former Irish international, Manchester United and Celtic midfielder – passed away on February 9 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
Against Timbers 2 the Monarchs will look to remain undefeated in regular-season home openersas it currently holds a 2-0-1 (7 points) record since 2015. In last season’s home opener against Phoenix Rising FC, the Monarchs walked away 2-0 victors at the site of Saturday’s match – Rio Tinto Stadium.
Against Timbers 2 last season, the Monarchs earned two victories before a scoreless draw at Providence Park closed out the three-match series against the Western Conference foes. In the first match of the 2017 season, the Monarchs topped Timbers 2 2-1 courtesy of goals from DF James Moberg and MF Nick Besler to spur the club to a record setting first 13 matches where it lost just once in the opening stanza of the season.
The Monarchs kicked off 2018 last weekend as the defending USL regular-season championsafter playing to the best season in club history, posting a 20-5-7 (67 points) record in 2017. The Monarchs began its season last Saturday when it visited Tulsa Roughnecks FC, walking away from Tulsa victorious for the first time since 2016 with a 3-2 win. The Monarchs found goals from MF Corey Baird and FW Chandler Hoffman before MF Charlie Adams netted the game winning goal in the 90th minute to secure the narrow come-from-behind win at ONEOK Field. With the win, the Monarchs improved on its undefeated record in season opening matches, moving to a 3-0-1 (10 points) record since 2015.
Contributing two assists for the Monarchs in last weekend’s victory and earning a spot on the United Soccer League’s Team of the Week for Week 2 was MF Maikel Chang. Making his debut for the club, Chang assisted on the first goal of the match to Corey Baird and the game’s equalizer on the 88thminute. Although not directly credited with a third assist in his club debut, Chang also began the play that led to Adams’ game winning goal in the 90th minute.
The club returns a 9-player core amongst the 30-man roster for its 2018 campaign, entering the club’s first full year under Briggs and staff. USL All-League First Team selection, USL MVP Finalist and Golden Boot runner-up from 2017, FW Chandler Hoffman returns after leading the Monarchs in scoring in 2017, after posting 17 total goals while registering 7 assists through the regular-season and playoffs for his best year as a professional. Joining Hoffman in returning to the Monarchs are MFs Sebastian Velasquez and veteran midfielder Charlie Adams. After his best performance as a professional that saw him score nine goals and register six assists, Velasquez placed second in scoring within the potent attacking force for the Monarchs.
Plenty of experience returns to the midfield and back line as DFs Michael Gallagher, Andrew Brody and James Moberg return to a staunch back line while MF Karsten Hanlin returns for his sophomore season in midfield. Up top, FW Juan Ignacio Mare also returns for his first full season with the club after signing last August. In goal GK Andrew Putna returns for his sophomore season in the USL after featuring in four matches for the Monarchs last season, posting two shutouts while registering two penalty kick saves in two-consecutive matches against Sacramento Republic FC and Reno 1868 FC.
New arrivals for 2018 include: Former Charleston Battery duo MFs Maikel Chang and 2017 USL All-League Second Team selection Justin Portillo; DFs David Diosa, Rhys Williams as well as a former USL Cup winner in Konrad Plewa and 2015 MLS SuperDraft pick Kalen Ryden; In midfield MF Masta Kacher joins the Monarchs together with Washington Husky alumni Josh Heard and reserve GK Jake Leeker.
In 2018 Briggs returns a Real Monarchs coaching staff which includes former Real SaltLake and New York Red Bulls defender Jamison Olave, Goalkeeper Coach Matt Glaeser who returns for his second season with the USL side, arriving in December 2016, along with Briggs after serving as an assistant at Wilmington. Briggs also sees the transition of former Monarchs midfielder Danny Cruz to an assistant coaching role with the club. Prior to making the transition to coaching, Cruz appeared in nine matches for the Monarchs in 2017, playing 617 minutes while making six starts. As a professional Cruz logged 137 career Major League Soccer appearances, 99 of them in a starting role.