In 2014 Orlando City set a precedent for the United Soccer League by winning eight successive games en-route to a Commissioner’s Cup trophy that season. Many thought that record would stand for some time in a league that was gaining traction and competition was steepening.
On June 19, 2017, the storyline changed and the history books had to be rewritten.
In just their third season Real Monarchs SLC became the first club in the USL to post nine consecutive wins, toppling the benchmark set by Orlando three years ago.
The Monarchs claimed Reno as their ninth victim in a row, adding them to the extensive list that includes: Sounders 2, Swope Park, Galaxy II, Republic FC, Colorado Springs, Vancouver, Orange County, and Timbers 2.
A team with just 17 wins all-time to their name ahead of the 2017 season, the Monarchs now stand at a tall twelve wins with the only blemish coming from a mid-April contest at Colorado Springs. The season is young but the team now sits two points clear of San Antonio at the summit of the league as we near the halfway point of the season.
It took goals from a former Louisville standout and an SLC native to secure the record win as Andrew Brody and Taylor Peay both nabbed goals in the first half. Throughout the entire 90 minutes SLC made bursting runs forward, combined for eloquent passing sequences and kept the Reno defense embroiled.
The difference-maker for the Monarchs was in goal at the hands of Lalo Fernandez. The RSL first-teamer came up with multiple highlight reel saves down the stretch to keep history intact.
The Monarchs had to earn their place in USL lore as the final ten minutes told the story for the side from Sandy in a game that had traces of the first matchup between the two sides this year, a 5-3 win from the Monarchs. Reno’s furious comeback again fell short of miraculous when 1868’s goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell sprung forward to add an extra body in the box in search of the equalizer. In the strangest of circumstances Tarbell thought he had nabbed the equalizer when he slammed home a rebound from a free kick in stoppage time only to have the assistant referee wave his flag for offside.
Celebration ensued for the Monarchs when the final whistle blew as relief set over the group when the players and staff realized they had achieved something special.
Consistency at home and on the road, has been the key for the team this year and they continue this fine run of form, going 7-0-0 at Rio Tinto and 5-1-0 away from the Wasatch Mountains. Head Coach Mark Briggs hit the nail in the head when he alluded to the team’s consistency after the record setting win.
“We always speak about having a hunger and desire and I think having that desire and having that hunger to succeed, is the base for our team,” Briggs said. He added that having the talent and the ability doesn’t matter if there is no work rate to drive the hunger. The voracity of team dubbed a ‘young MLS’ side, is echoed through the words of their leader.
The Monarchs have supplied fans in Salt Lake as well as fans of the league with arguably some of the best soccer the league has ever seen. A mix of non-complacency and striving for hardware has driven this team forward and in the words of star midfielder Sebastian Velasquez: “We’re not done yet.”