The final chapter of the Real Monarchs SLC season came to a fairytale ending on Sunday when a mixed group of veterans and young stars from all corners of the American soccer landscape and the world lifted the United Soccer League Championship trophy after defeating two-time defending champions, Louisville City FC in one of the most exciting finals the Championship has witnessed.
For defender Konrad Plewa the narrative goes even further. Following the match, the Poland native was selected as the USL Championship Final’s Most Valuable Player for his defensive performance on the night and for scoring the game-winner in the 45th minute to earn the Monarchs its first-ever Championship trophy.
And while in any circumstance the notion of being the team hero and scoring the game-winner in a championship game would be enough to warrant a celebration, it’s Plewa history of overcoming adversity that makes the award all the more sweeter.
Just three years prior Plewa suffered a stroke on July 31, 2016 that sidelined him for several weeks while playing with New York Red Bulls II, Plewa battled back to win the 2016 USL Championship.
The next season Plewa found himself in Missouri with Saint Louis FC where for the first time in his career he failed to qualify for the postseason.
And then after just one season in St. Louis, Plewa relocated to join Real Monarchs SLC who had claimed the Championship’s regular season title the year prior. In his first season the defender appeared in a career-low 12 matches, only starting in eight matches after dealing with injuries and struggling to break into the side throughout the year.
In three years Plewa has seen the highs and lows of professional soccer and yet here he is today, recognized as the best player in a game of the top two teams in the league on a cold, hard-fought 90 minutes in Louisville.
And yet when the moment came for Plewa to accept his Most Valuable Player trophy, it wasn’t about everything he had overcome, or the success he had seen this year. It was about the team as a whole, proving to everyone that it was never a David versus Goliath story, but rather about a team of guys who individually and as a whole, overcame the odds given to them to be everything they believed they could be - USL Championship Title Winners.