Saturday saw the Monarchs close out the second annual Wasatch Winter Cup against their 2019 USL Championship Final opponent, Louisville City FC. The match ended in a 3-1 loss, after having previously played to two scoreless draws against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and USL League One side, Union Omaha. The results led to the Monarchs finishing third in the preseason tournament, with only a single goal to show across three games.
With only two weeks left ahead of the 2020 USL Championship season opener against San Antonio FC on March 7, Real Monarchs Head Coach Jamison Olave isn’t troubled by the Winter Cup display, however, he does recognize that there is still work to be done before the title-defense begins.
“We had opportunities to see new players and how they can help the team, that was my big take away from these three games,” Olave said after Saturday’s match against LouCity. “Three games and just one goal is something that we need to work on, just on the attacking side of the field. We started the preseason with defending so we didn’t spend a lot of time on attacking and it’s something we need to get better on.”
In the first weeks of preseason, the Monarchs focused heavily on its defensive shape, training drills that tuned into counter-pressing and possession-oriented play. Shutting down the attack and moving as a solid backline was paramount for the former MLS Defender of the Year.
It wasn’t until the final week leading into the Wasatch Winter Cup, did the Monarchs switch gears into forward passing and putting in a threatening presence in around goal, and this was something Olave took note of.
“It’s not a big concern because we started preseason in defending,” Olave said. “We had a lot of new guys to get to have a clear understanding on the defensive, which is why we spent a lot of time there. On attacking, there is a little concern but not too much. There are some missing guys like Maikel Chang that make a difference but the new guys just need time to learn.”
Moving in the 2020 USL Championship season, there are plenty of new faces on the Monarchs roster. Chris Bermudez, Jimmy Slayton, Nicolas Gimenez, Dayonn Harris, Michael Wetungu, Devin Vega, and USL League One MVP and Young Player of the Year Arturo Rodriguez each made their first appearances in a Monarchs jersey during the preseason tournament.
Meanwhile, RSL Academy players Zach Farnsworth, Tommy Silva, Alejandro Silva, Richard Ruiz, and Keaton Woods also joined the Monarchs for the preseason tournament.
For most of the new players in the Monarchs jersey, the Wasatch Winter Cup provided a preview of the heightened level of competition they will face through the course of the 2020 USL Championship season. Though guys like Bermudez and Rodriguez impressed the Monarchs coaching staff, Olave understands that it may take some time for the new guys to adjust to the different level play in the USL Championship.
The Monarchs have one last preseason trial before it begins its title-defense as it visits Sacramento Republic FC this Saturday. With work to do, Jamison Olave is prepared to help the new guys buy into the Championship mentality that the Monarchs embraced throughout 2019.
“There’s a mentality that we need to create in the club and implement between the coaching staff, the guys from last year – the leaders on the team – and for the new guys to buy in,” Olave concluded. “They need to figure how we play, how we compete and how we want to win everything. They’re going to take a little time but they’ve held together.”