SANDY, Utah (Saturday, September 2, 2017) – Real Monarchs SLC (17-4-4, 55 points, USL #1 / West #1) kicked off Labor Day Weekend with a disappointing 1-2 home loss against San Antonio, the Utah side’s closest Western Conference pursuers. A 55th-minute goal from RSL FW and Utah native Sebastian “Bofo” Saucedo seemed to be all the home side might need to hold up a clean sheet by GK Connor Sparrow and the Monarchs’ defense, but an 88th-minute own goal by DF Taylor Peay – belying his otherwise stellar performance – and a Stephen McCarthy header three minutes into added time gave visiting SAFC a 2-1 win, closing the Monarchs’ gap atop the West to just seven points with as many games remaining for San Antonio.
Despite the loss, Head Coach Mark Briggs’ side managed to officially clinch a USL Cup Playoff berth, the Monarchs’ first in its three-year history, due to tonight’s OKC Energy loss at Swope Park Rangers.
Saucedo’s 55th minute goal – his third with the Monarchs this season – was assisted by MF Charlie Adams, whose seventh assist of the year moves him into the top three amongst USL leaders. Adams collected the ball at midfield and it a slicing lefty ball over the top for Saucedo, who cut inside and coolly slotted his chance far-post for the difference-maker, his first Monarchs game-winning goal of the year.
For Sparrow, none of his three saves were finer than his 68th-minute, one-handed stab to parry away a point-blank chance by Ben Newnam for San Antonio, which then hit the post in the 72nd minute in a determined search for an equalizer. Sparrow’s pursuit of his sixth shutout of 2017 was denied on a set piece in the 88th minute, when a long, looping ball glanced off the head of Peay – who leaped to win the ball between two San Antonio attackers – and into the back of the net.
San Antonio’s game-winning play consisted of Michael Reed’s service finding the head of Stephen McCarthy, who buried the decisive goal inside the far post to deal the Monarchs its first home loss since last September, snapping an overall 13-game unbeaten run at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The Monarchs now play four of their next five games on the road in September, looking to improve upon its already impressive 6-3-3 mark away from home this season. The upcoming run sees the Monarchs travel to Portland and Phoenix prior to a Friday, Sept. 22 home match against Orange County, then again hitting the road at Sacramento and Reno prior to wrapping up the 2017 USL regular season at home against Vancouver and LA Galaxy II the first two Saturdays in October.
With six games remaining in its 2017 regular-season campaign, the Monarchs pursue several goals which remain within reach after earning its first-ever postseason berth, including clinching the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 postseason, as well as breaking the current USL records for wins (21), points (69) and goals (61).
Tonight’s tense match with league defensive power San Antonio featured returns to action as well as debuts for numerous roster members, as recent addition Danny Cruz – he of 150+ career MLS games – made his home debut in his third week with the club. Former Costa Rican international Diego Calvo made his Monarchs/USL debut after arriving in Utah four weeks ago, the 2014 World Cup and former Saprissa man earning his first-ever minutes in Claret-and-Cobalt. In addition to Saucedo, another RSL man – Monarchs Captain Nick Besler – returned to the lineup after missing last week’s 2-1, come-from-behind win over Rio Grande Valley due to inclusion on Mike Petke’s RSL bench in the Rocky Mountain Cup win over Colorado.
Match: Real Monarchs vs San Antonio FC
Date: Saturday, September 2, 2017
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah
Weather: Clear and 90
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Real Monarchs 0 1 1
San Antonio FC 0 2 2
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1): Connor Sparrow; Kyle Curinga, James Moberg, Taylor Peay, Max Lachowecki; Nick Besler, Charlie Adams; Danny Cruz (Andrew Brody 73’), Sebastian Velasquez (Diego Calvo 78’), Sebastian Saucedo; Chandler Hoffman (Juan Ignacio Mare 83’)
Subs not used: Andrew Putna, Justin Schmidt, Karsten Hanlin, Daniel Haber
San Antonio FC: (4-4-2): Diego Restrepo; Ben Newnam (Ryan Roushandel 87’), Sebastian Ibeagha, Stephen McCarthy, Greg Cochrane; Wellington Pecka, Michael Reed, Billy Forbes (Mike Seth 61’), Kris Tyrpak (Ever Guzman 73’); Cesar Elizondo, Omar Gordon
Subs not used: Lee Johnston, Cyprian Hedrick, Connor Presley, Mark Qiong
Stats Summary: RM/SAFC
Shots: 6 / 16
Shots on Goal: 2 / 5
Saves: 3 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 8
Fouls: 15 / 19
Offsides: 1 / 2
RM – Sebastian Saucedo (Charlie Adams) 55’
SAFC – Own Goal (Taylor Peay) 88’
SAFC – Stephen McCarthy (Michael Reed) 93+’
RM – Kyle Curinga (Caution) 8’
SAFC – Cesar Elizondo (Caution) 49’
SAFC – Kris Tyrpak (Caution) 58’
RM – Sebastian Saucedo (Caution) 68’
SAFC – Sebastian Ibeagha (Caution) 86’
SAFC – Wellington Pecka (Caution) 90’
Referee: Ramy Touchan
Assistant Referees: Joshua Mills, David Rozek
4th Official: Trevor McDowell