Real Monarchs SLC and the Real Salt Lake Academy met in a scrimmage match on Monday evening at the Zions Bank Training Center in Herriman. The Monarchs toppled the Academy side with head coach Mark Briggs fielding two different lineups on either side of halftime in the 4-0 win. FWs Chandler Hoffman and Juan Ignacio Mare both notched goals as MFs Masta Kasher along with trialist Joshua Heard tallied one a piece.
“Tonight was pleasing. There were things that we’ve worked on in training that came out in tonight’s game against the Academy,” Briggs said. “There’s obviously things to improve upon but I was pleased with the task tonight.”
Briggs split his team in two with the majority of currently signed players given 45 minutes in their first preseason test. Four of Briggs’ starters for the match were new faces in Monarchs camp, as DFs David Diosa and Konrad Plewa, MFs Justin Portillo and Maikel Chang all played the first half for the Monarchs.
In the second half, Briggs applied an entirely different lineup. The second XI included Mare and Kacher, players on trial and players brought into camp for preseason trainings. The second half started furiously with the club’s newest addition, Kacher, scoring roughly 30 seconds into his debut with the club. Kacher added an assist two minutes later when he connected with Mare for the game’s third goal. Heard’s tally came in the 75th minute as he slammed the ball home from close range.
For the Monarchs, Monday’s scrimmage provided the first full-match outing for the 2018 group and an opportunity for the team to face players that weren’t teammates. Through the first full week of preseason, the team has been competing with each other on a daily basis, so the chance to play against an impressive Academy side, came as a welcome one for the players. For newcomers Portillo, Chang, Plewa, Diosa and Kacher, Monday’s scrimmage provided the first chance for them to play in a full-sided match in the system guided by Briggs.
“There were a number of good individual performances tonight,” Briggs reflected. “Our new boys came into the match and showed well. Most importantly they meshed with the returning players which bodes well for the start of the year.”
A large focus in Briggs’ preseason has been geared towards his team applying various points of pressure throughout different areas of the field. Defensive shape has been a point of emphasis during the first week of preseason in Herriman, and throughout the match against the Academy, those points of emphasis were achieved.
“Applying immediate pressure and making sure we won the ball in the final third was the aim,” Briggs explained. “To win the ball so many times in the final third spoke volumes in the match. Both lineups pressed the ball and pressed both groups scored goals because of it.””
RSL Academy players MF Eric Virgen and GK Jacob Jackson started and played the full 90 minutes for the Academy, adding another chance for the pair to play against professionals after returning from preseason with the RSL first team in Tucson, Arizona. Jackson’s shot stopping abilities showed throughout the match with a penalty kick save in the 50th minute, solidifying his performance as he stifled Juan Mare’s initial spot kick, before deflecting the rebound on the follow-up attempt. Both Jackson and Virgen’s performance echoed lessons garnered from the trip to Tucson in the Academy’s goals as a unit, even if the score line didn’t reflect the case.
“At times we did very well moving the ball around.” Academy Technical director Martín Vasquez explained. “There were a lot of goals achieved from our players in the match like defending as a unit and moving the ball quickly and accurately. It was a good performance by a lot of players against the professionals.”