Thursday, September 3, 2015
After Friday night’s victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2, Real Salt Lake Vice President of Soccer Administration Rob Zarkos was delighted with Real Monarchs SLC’s late-season surge.
“We were joking last night, we wish the season was 10 games longer because it looks like we’re peaking right now,” Zarkos said.
After Wednesday night’s victory against OKC Energy FC, which gave the Monarchs victories against three of the top-five teams in the USL’s Western Conference in the past eight days, it’s likely the other teams in the top six are breathing a sigh of relief they won’t be meeting the Monarchs competitively for the remainder of 2015.
With two games remaining, both against Arizona United SC, the Monarchs are the hottest team in the West after snapping Energy FC’s nine-game undefeated streak.
“I think our guys believed in it the whole time,” Monarchs assistant coach Bingy Lara said after Wednesday night’s game. “We started at the beginning of the season, we rushed our pieces a little bit. We got to a point where we started to not believe a little bit. We were working hard but just not getting the result. Now we’re getting our results, so hopefully we can take this to the rest of the games and get two more.”
The side didn’t miss a beat despite numerous changes to the starting lineup from its victories against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and S2. With Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo and Boyd Okwuonu unavailable due to international duty, and Ricardo Velazco sat out after suffering an injury against S2, players like RSL loanees Devon Sandoval and John Stertzer made their first appearances.
While that duo fit in well, it was the goals of Monarchs regulars Emery Welshman and captain Lucas Baldin that powered Real to a victory against OKC. Welshman’s sixth goal of the season gave his side the lead, before Baldin converted a second-half penalty kick to wrap up all three points, and a third consecutive victory.
“I thought Emery had one of his best games of the year. Goals or not, that guy was stretching the game, making good runs to the corner, being dangerous,” Lara said. “I’m glad he’s getting his goals in that way, but I think the work he’s done defensively and buying into the team’s scheme have been really great.”With two games to go, the Monarchs are continuing to build a platform for what could be a very positive 2016 season.