DENVER, Colorado (Saturday, September 9, 2023) – Real Monarchs (8-11-5, 31 points, 11th in West) were defeated by rivals Colorado Rapids 2 (16-4-5, 57 points, 1st in West) 2-0, eliminating the chances of making the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs
As the first whistle was blown both teams frantically looked to score early, each exchanging chances around their opposition's 18-yard-box. In the 6th minute it seemed that Real Monarchs had found the advantage as Axel Kei fired a shot into Colorado Rapids 2 netting but he was caught offside by the assistant referee. Colorado continued to threaten Real Salt Lake Academy goalkeeper Blake Kelly, but he remained steadfast throughout the opening moments of the match to prevent the highest scoring team in MLS NEXT Pro from taking the early lead.
The match grinded to a halt as both teams attempted to prevent the other from finding the opening goal. Approaching the 30 minute mark Colorado began to aggressively search for the lead and in the 28th minute Oliver Larraz, the series leading goal scorer, snuck a shot past Kelly. Commotion in the Monarch’s 18-yard-box resulted in Larraz receiving the ball unmarked inside the six-yard-box, he fired a quick shot past the RSL Academy ‘keeper to take the 1-0 advantage. Unable to equalize before the close of the first-half, Real Monarchs entered the break, down 1-0.
Attempting to keep their playoff hopes alive in the second half the Monarchs showed excellent defensive awareness stopping multiple Colorado Rapids 2 attempts from finding the back of the net. In the 52nd minute Griffin Dillon made the correct read to block a Colorado header from sneaking past the rearguard and just seven minutes later Kelly made an excellent reaction to tip an on target shot out for a goal kick.
In the 69th minute the Monarchs were close to finding the equalizer as an onside Terron Williams dashed down the wing and crossed the ball into Kei who found an open shot but the attempt was stopped by the ‘keeper. Rapids 2 found took the 2-0 lead in the 85th minute to all but end Real Monarchs playoff hopes when Rémi Cabral tapped the ball into goal off one touch from a Yosuke Hanya pass. Despite limiting Colorado Rapids 2 ability to score and creating multiple chances of their own the Monarchs were unable to prevent a 2-0 defeat.
UP NEXT: Real Monarchs return home to Zions Bank Stadium for their final home match of the season facing Tacoma Defiance with kickoff set for 8:00p MT. This will be the second meeting this year between these two both sides previously meeting in April where the Defiance were victorious 5-0.
Real Monarchs (4-3-3): Blake Kelly; Keller Storlie, Omar Alba, Bobby Pierre, Gershon Henry; Jude Wellings (Dominic Berrios 67’), Griffin Dillon, Tyrone Mondi (Kristian Kelley 46’); Gilberto Garcia (Owen Anderson 46’), Axel Kei, Terron Williams
Subs not used: Cayne Madhlangove, Derrek Chan, Amferny Sinclair
Colorado Rapids 2 (4-4-2): Abraham Rodriguez; Steve Flores (Blake Malone 82’), Michael Edwards, Aboubacar Keita, Jackson Travis; Oliver Larraz, Marlon Vargas (Logan Batiste 90’), Robinson Aguirre (Dauda Amadou 82’), Yoskue Hanya; Jonathan Lewis (Rémi Cabral 35’), Darren Yapi (Dillon Serna 89’)
Subs not used: Caique, Rémi Cabral, Daniel Garcia, Jackson Walti
SLC: Bobby Pierre (caution) 24’
COL2: Aboubacar Keita (caution) 40’
COL2: Rémi Cabral (caution) 66’
COL2: Yosuke Hanya (caution) 74’