For the first time since its inception in 2015, Real Monarchs SLC booked its ticket to the USL Championship Final after becoming the Western Conference Title-Winners last Saturday in a dramatic 2-1 win over El Paso Locomotive FC. The Monarchs are now set to represent the West as it heads to Louisville, Kentucky to play back-to-back defending Championship Title Winners, Louisville City FC. The Championship Final will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes on Sunday, November 17 with kickoff set for 5:30p MT.
It’s an unfamiliar foe and territory for Real Monarchs as it has never gone face-to-face with its fellow 2015 expansion side Louisville City FC throughout the two side’s five campaigns in the USL Championship. Real Monarchs will pit its regular season road record of 5-8-4 against the dominating Louisville home record of 10-3-4 in its quest for the Championship Trophy. The Monarchs have come up big under pressure, toppling the likes of Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising FC and El Paso Locomotive FC to finish the season strong and make its way to its first ever Western Conference Title win.
While the Monarchs are searching for its first USL Championship Trophy, Louisville City FC is aiming for a three-peat performance. Louisville has had astounding success since its inaugural season, having made it to the Eastern Conference Final every year, and winning the Championship Trophy in 2017 with a 1-0 win over Swope Park Rangers before winning it again in 2018 with another 1-0 shutout win over Phoenix Rising FC.
Louisville and the Monarchs have had a similar path through the 2019 USL Championship Playoffs, with both side finishing the regular season in 4th in their respective conferences. Louisville moved to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after a 2-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rowdies before providing the upset victory in the East with another 2-1 victory over first place Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Now, Louisville is on its way to its third straight USL Championship Final appearance, hot off the heels of a 3-1 extra time win over the Eastern Conference third place Indy Eleven.
Throughout 2019, the Louisville attack has combined for 65 goals, the sixth most in the league – 16 behind the Monarchs in the same time frame. 26-Year-old attacking midfielder Magnus Rasmussen leads the attack with 16 goals – 3 of which came in the playoffs. Behind him is Luke Spencer who has contributed 10 goals. Oscar Jimenez and Nialle McCabe feed into the attack, providing a combined 13 assists for the powerful Louisville attack.
Defensively, Louisville has conceded only 44 goals for a +21 goal differential – compared to the Monarchs 57 conceded and +24 differential. 24-year-old goalkeeper Chris Hubbard has been the mainstay in the frame of goal for Louisville, securing five of the nine shutouts throughout 2019 with 76 saves, nine of which have come in the postseason. 2017/18 USL All-League First Team Paco Craig and Sean Totsch stand in the centerback positions to help create a stalwart backline, limiting chances towards goal.
The 2019 USL Championship season comes to a head as West meets East in the USL Championship Final, with the winner taking home the coveted Championship Trophy. Catch the action when it is broadcast live nationally on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes on Sunday, November 17 with kickoff at 5:30p MT.