FULLERTON, California (Friday, August 25, 2023) – Real Monarchs (7-12-5, 28 points, 12th in West) kept their playoff hopes alive as they clinched a late 1-0 victory against LAFC2 thanks to superb performances from 15-year-olds Axel Kei and Will Mackay, who provided the game-winning goal and the clean sheet, respectively.
As Real Monarchs began their 24th match of the season the Utah side struggled to slow down LAFC2’s rapid possession-based attack through much of the first half. LAFC2 broke through the Monarchs backline several times within the first few minutes as Leonandro Flores and Christian Torres had multiple open looks in front of goal, but 15-year-old Real Salt Lake Academy goalkeeper Will Mackay, in his professional debut, made several saves and intelligent defensive clearances to prevent LAFC2 from taking an early lead.
Mackay continued to impress in his Monarchs debut, preventing LAFC2’s Christopher Jaime from finding the back of the net in the 21st minute, making a diving save to push the ball away, saving the Monarchs once again. Despite Mackay’s resilience within the penalty area, Real Monarchs continued to find difficulty on both sides of the ball, creating very few chances while allowing LAFC2 to make dangerous runs into the 18-yard-box. The Monarchs were only able to create one significant opportunity during the first half which came in the 39th minute when they caught LAFC2 on the counter and Tyrone Mondi fired a shot that seemed destined for goal, yet the attempt was saved at the last moment by Abraham Romero. As the first half drew to a close the Monarchs entered the locker room drawn level at 0-0 with LAFC2.
With the second half underway, Head Coach Jámison Olave made several changes in hopes that the Monarchs would be able to regain momentum and hold off the LAFC2 attack. Real Monarchs adopted a low block well into the second half which helped limit the chances Los Angeles was able to create in the final third. As neither team was able to find space in their opposition's final third the match began to be drawn into a stalemate.
A sense of urgency began to set in shortly after the 80th minute as the Monarchs and LAFC2 exchanged hurried attacks. In the 89th minute Real Salt Lake Homegrown Axel Kei would break the stalemate and score the game winner for the Monarchs as he weaved his way through the 18-yard-box and fired a missile past Romero to claim the 1-0 victory.
UP NEXT: Real Monarchs return to the Beehive State facing Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Friday, September 1 with kickoff set for 8:00 p.m. MT. This will be the second meeting between the Monarchs and Whitecaps 2 this season, having previously met in June where Vancouver was victorious 1-0. After their home match Real Monarchs will travel to the other side of the Rockies to face Colorado Rapids 2 on September 9.
Real Monarchs (4-3-3): Will Mackay; Keller Storlie, Omar Alba (Jenthe Mertens 46’), Kurowskybob Pierre, Delentz Pierre; Tyrone Mondi (Gilberto Garica 46’), Moses Neyman (Griffin Dillon 46’), Darón Iskenderian; Amferny Sinclair (Jude Wellings 46’), Ilijah Paul (Zavier Gozo 84’), Axel Kei
Subs not used: Jenthe Mertens, Gilberto Garcia, Gershon Henry, Jude Wellings, Derrek Chan, Griffin Dillon
LAFC2 (4-3-3): Abraham Romero; Julian Gaines, Tony Leone, Armando Avila, Luca Bombino; Jeremy Batioja (Dustin Aguirre 81’), Thomas Musto, Christopher Jaime; Favian Vazquez (Yekeson Subah 68’), Leonardo Flores, Christian Torres
Subs not used: Jeremi Rodríguez, Jassem Koleilat
MISCONDUCT SUMMARY:RM: Omar Alba (caution) 31’
RM: Ilijah Paul (caution) 45’+3’
RM: Jude Wellings (caution) 88’
LAFC2: Julian Gaines (caution) 90’+3’