HERRIMAN, Utah (Thursday, March 23, 2022) – Real Monarchs are set to kick off its inaugural season in the newly-formed MLS NEXT PRO this Sunday, March 27 at 1:00 p.m. MT against Tacoma Defiance at Starfire Sports Complex in Seattle.
Sunday’s match, as well as all Real Monarchs matches this season, will be streamed live via www.MLSnextPro.com.
Real Monarchs vs Tacoma Defiance
Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, WA
Sunday, March 27 at 1:00 p.m. MT
Game Notes for Sunday’s RM vs TAC game Available Online
The Adobe PDF version of the 2022 MLS NEXT PRO Game Guide in advance of Sunday’s contest between Real Monarchs and Tacoma Defiance can be found here. Media members looking to receive the document as an attachment or have further questions are asked to please contact Meg Van Dyk in RSL Communications via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
2022 Records: Real Monarchs (0-0-0, 0 points); Tacoma Defiance (0-0-0, 0 points)
Head-to-Head: Prior to joining MLS NEXT Pro, Real Monarchs and Tacoma Defiance each competed in the U.S. Division II setup, USL Championship. Since its 2015 inception, Real Monarchs earned a dominant record against the team from Seattle, posting a 9-2-2 (W-L-T) all-time record against the side at one time known as Sounders 2. Last summer, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw, with a Monarchs goal from Malik Johnson on June 23, 2021 in what would become the final USL Championship meeting.
STORYLINES TO WATCH:
OLAVE AT CRUX OF CLARET-AND-COBALT PYRAMID
Now in his fifth season at the helm, Real Monarchs head coach Jamison Olave coaches from a critical vantage point in the RSL development pipeline. Residing between the MLS First team and the Academy, Olave – a long-time centerback during Real Salt Lake’s heyday, winning the MLS Cup in 2009 and earning multiple MLS All-Star and Best XI nods – brings his extensive playing experience to the position.
On a daily basis, Olave must balance the needs from three groups: 1) minutes & injury rehab stints for first-team players; 2) on-field and off-field development for young professionals under contract to the Real Monarchs; and 3) provide opportunities to stretch limits, excel and learn through competition for young Academy players.
BALANCE OF YOUTH AND VETERAN LEADERSHIP
The Real Monarchs roster is mainly composed of current or former RSL Academy talent, combined with a group of recent college graduates, all of whom are in their mid-to-early twenties. The youngest rostered player is FW Terron Williams at 16 years old, while veteran MF Tyrone Mondi and the versatile Pierre Reedy both 25 years old, joined by University of Louisville graduate MF Pedro Fonseca, are the elder statesmen of the roster. Including current Academy and RSL players, there are 21 teenagers who could appear for the Monarchs this season, a number that could grow as the season goes on and more Academy players earn opportunities to play at the next level.
INAUGURAL SEASON OF MLS NEXT PRO
After seven seasons in the USL Championship, Real Monarchs now transition to the new MLS NEXT PRO for the 2022 season and beyond. The Club will be joining 19 other MLS reserve clubs and one independent club, Rochester New York FC, in the league’s inaugural season. The Monarchs will look to build off its 2019 USL Championship and the 2017 Regular-Season title, both previously won in the USL Championship.
This year, Real Monarchs will play a slate of 24 games, 12 home and 12 away, with a playoff taking place at the end of September. Unlike most other leagues, MLS NEXT Pro matches will not end in any draws; should the completion of regular time find the two teams tied, the match will proceed immediately into kicks from the penalty mark, with the winning side receiving two standings points and the “losing” side receiving one point.
LINCHPIN OF RSL DEVELOPMENT
Since its creation in 2015, the Real Monarchs have played a pivotal role in the overall success of the Real Salt Lake organization, with nearly every RSL player having spent some time in the Monarchs system. Of the 30 current members of Real Salt Lake, 22 of them have played minutes with the Monarchs. Meanwhile, six RSL players were originally signed to Monarchs contract and earned new contracts with the first team, including MF Nick Besler, FW Maikel Chang and Homegrowns DF Andrew Brody, GK Gavin Beavers, MF Julio Benitez and DF Jaziel Orozco.
Besler and Chang represent a group of players that have been signed originally for Monarchs, but later signed to RSL contracts due to their impressive on-field performances. Former players like Douglas Martinez and Noah Powder took similar paths to Real Salt Lake. The Monarchs provide RSL with the opportunity to sign players with lower risk, allowing them to develop within the system before making the jump to the First team. Recent RSL signings GK Tomas Gomez and DF Jasper Löffelsend were originally brought in to be members of Real Monarchs, but a combination of their preseason play, and injuries to other First team players saw them earn contracts with Real Salt Lake.
Last season 20 current members of the RSL Academy earned playing time and professional debuts with the Monarchs, including FW Axel Kei and MF Jude Wellings. Other RSL Homegrowns like MF Bode Davis, FW Chris Garcia and DF Zack Farnsworth earned their professional debuts with the Monarchs in 2020, with Davis scoring his first professional goal with the Monarchs in 2021.
RSL ACADEMY PIPELINE
Since its inception in 2015, Real Monarchs have served as an integral part of the Club’s overall development pipeline, providing crucial professional minutes to RSL Academy talent prior to their arrival in Major League Soccer. This season, the Monarchs will feature a heavy dose of RSL Academy talent, including nine Real Salt Lake Homegrown contracted players and 20 previous or current members of the RSL Academy.
FLUIDITY BACK AND FORTH
One of the benefits of Real Monarchs to the overall organization centers around RSL Academy development. For players like GK Blake Kelly, MF Abokye Bikyeombe, DF Gershon Henry and MF Izzy Amparo who are consistently outplaying their age group within the RSL Academy, the Monarchs provides a team for them to play up and challenge their abilities with the hope of bettering themselves as players. Additionally, it allows the organization to send them back to play with the RSL Academy when they need further development time, or during major competitive tournaments like the GA Cup or MLS Next Cup.
The lack of permanence allows the organization to treat each individual player differently, creating a path most suited for them, knowing that they can move between teams at their own pace.
THE FOURTH PRONG
In addition to the group of players from the First team, RSL Academy, and recent college graduates, there are a group of young teenagers signed to Real Monarchs, including DF Bobby Pierre, MF Jack Imperato and MF Leo Torres. Pierre originally hails from within the RSL Academy but has spent recent years abroad playing with RC Strasbourg Alsace in France. Imperato comes to Utah having played in Spain within the Villarreal youth system and more recently with the 2021 USL Championship winners, Orange County SC. Finally, Torres returns to Real Monarchs on a season-long loan from San Antonio FC of USL Championship. Torres joined the Monarchs last season for a short loan stint, during which he scored two goals in just seven appearances.
The team also made history last season when they set and consequently broke the record for youngest goalkeeper in league history three times with Gavin Beavers, Blake Kelly and Fernando Delgado. Additionally, FW Axel Kei set the record for youngest player to ever appear in a professional match. MF Jude Wellings became the third-youngest attacking midfielder to ever play in USL Championship behind LA Galaxy mainstay Efrain Alvarez and Diego Garcia of El Paso Locomotive.