Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Rarely will a last-place team garner the attention that Real Monarchs SLC did toward the end of the 2015 USL season. For the Monarchs, it was well deserved as they were dismantling playoff-bound teams left and right, drawing some significant crowds at Rio Tinto Stadium and making so much noise that an extra month’s worth of games hypothetically could have been the difference between cellar dweller and postseason-bound.
As Real Monarchs SLC looks toward its second season in 2016, the optimism is legitimate as the club could be a force to deal with in the Western Conference.
- RELATED: Monarchs End 2015 With Much To Look Forward To
2015 USL Season in Review:
Place: 12th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 32
Goals Against: 42
2015 leaders: Max Rauhofer (9 goals), Ricardo Velasco (4 assists), Lalo Fernandez (52 saves, 4 shutouts)
Greatest moment of 2015: The team’s five-game winning streak to close out the regular season was collectively a huge moment, especially considering the Monarchs had only two wins in the previous 23 games. That stretch included victories against three teams that advanced to the 2015 USL Playoffs: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Seattle Sounders FC 2 and OKC Energy FC. SLC wrapped up the season with back-to-back wins against Arizona United SC. On Aug. 28, the Monarchs drew a club-record 13,979 fans to their 2-1 win against S2.
Lowest moment of 2015: The game that probably stands out the most in which the Monarchs thoroughly were outplayed was their 5-1 loss to Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Aug. 13 at ONEOK Field. For much of the season, SLC played the majority of its opponents closely or even held a lead only to squander it in the second half, but this match was all Tulsa. The Roughnecks outshot the Monarchs 21-10 and scored four unanswered goals from the 32nd minute on.
What went right? The Monarchs’ ability to possess and play attacking soccer strengthened as the season wore on. While the goals might have been on the low end, SLC challenged the brunt of its opposition all year. Coincidentally, the Monarchs and their opposition were dead even in shots on goal (130-130) and nearly the same for overall shots (284 for the Monarchs and 288 for their opponents).
What went wrong? Off this same attacking topic, the finishing aspect was on the short side, so heading into the 2016 season the Monarchs will need to have a key attacking option like most other USL teams. During the five-game winning streak at the end of the season, Max Rauhofer and Emery Welshman stepped up in this facet, with at least one of them scoring in four of those five final matches. Rauhofer and Welshman finished first and second on the team with nine and six goals, respectively.He said it: “It takes a lot of guts to not have anything to play for, but continue to play for pride. Not only that, I think we got better in those final six, seven games. That’s a credit to the guys. That’s not easy. That’s the mental aspect of the game where you want to develop and that was done. I think we saw a lot of growth in those last six games with the guys.” – Freddy Juarez, Real Monarchs SLC Head Coach