Monday, September 14, 2015
The inaugural season for Real Monarchs SLC came to a close on Saturday night with a fifth consecutive victory, as Max Rauhofer’s goal earned a 1-0 win against Arizona United SC in front of 7,705 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium.
While a 2-13-8 start to the season had put the playoffs out of reach for the Monarchs prior to their late surge, putting together a consistent winning streak to round out the season left most within the group feeling rewarded for what had been a better season than the club’s record might have indicated.
“We feel good,” Monarchs Coach Freddy Juarez said prior to Saturday’s game. “I think throughout the season there has been a big part of the season where we felt good. I know it’s hard for people to believe because you look at the table and you don’t see a whole lot of Ws. Results can sometimes be an illusion. If you win, guys think we’re playing good, but if you lose and you really did have a good game, it can be hard to convince them that you did.”
The late turnaround can in part be attributed to greater defensive awareness and stability down the stretch. The Monarchs conceded only four goals in their final five games as the defensive mishaps that had cost the side points previously were to a large extent eliminated. The side’s ability to better hold possession under pressure was also evident, particularly on Saturday as Real held Arizona to only two shots in either half.
Add in greater poise in front of goal – 10 of the side’s 32 goals came in its final five games – and the Monarchs found a formula for success they will hope to continue into 2016.
“There’s been some good football that has resulted in closing out matches,” Juarez said. “We’ve created more chances, got more goals and we’ve done a lot of that throughout the year - obviously not scoring the goals, that’s why we didn’t win the games. But we’ve played some good football.”
Juarez has also been pleased with the environment the USL has provided for the squad to learn and grow throughout the season. With the race for the playoffs reaching its peak in the Western Conference, the Monarchs have faced some of the best sides the USL has had to offer, and as the season has progressed has proven a match for many of them.
“People talk about the game being the teacher,” Juarez said. “You train and the game is the exam every weekend. It’s critical for those guys to be in that environment and it can’t be replicated unless it’s a game in that atmosphere.”If the end of 2015 is any indicator, the Monarchs will certainly be ready to raise their grades when the 2016 season kicks off.