Real Monarchs officially opened a new era on Tuesday when it welcomed Vancouver Whitecaps FC to the Zions Bank Training Center for its first preseason match of the 2021 season.
The friendly gave Head Coach Jamison Olave a chance to evaluate the club’s youth with appearances from numerous Real Salt Lake Academy players, as well as a first look at the new international talent on the roster. The starting lineup itself was starkly different to any of the past with Sam Brown as the only former Monarchs player.
Real Salt Lake’s teenage goalkeeper Jeff Dewsnup started in goal, marking his first minutes since signing a professional contract early this year. In between the pipes the 16-year-old made several massive saves against MLS-level talent to keep the game within reach.
Ibrahim Bance, Malik Johnson and Kevin Saucedo also got their first taste of competition in a Real Monarchs uniform. Bance and Saucedo just recently joined the team in training after clearing quarantine protocols.
While the result of the match did not favor the home team, the narrative for the coaching staff was more about getting the guys out there, to get their feet wet and start acclimating with one another.
“We put together a team with Academy guys and new guys coming in and I think it was pretty good,” Olave said. “We got a lot of positives from the game. It was good to see the news guys, and it’s going to take time for them to adapt but overall I’m really happy with them.”
One of the positives was an overwhelming influx of academy players who have been training with the team nearly all preseason. Throughout the entirety of the 90 minute match, 15 current-academy players saw minutes on the pitch, including 15-year-old goalkeeper, Gavin Beavers, who snuffed a Whitecaps FC penalty kick just moments after entering the match.
“I am very happy and broad of both Jeff and Gavin with their performances against a talented MLS side,” Real Monarchs Goalkeeper Coach Mirza Harambasic said. “This was a valuable opportunity for them to grow and learn and that can’t be matched on the training field. I am looking forward to building off this performance for the future.”
For the team this is simply a first step in preparing for what will be an incredibly long and strenuous USL Championship season. Between now and when they first take the pitch against San Antonio FC on May 8 several more players will join the team and the coaching staff will guide them into a more cohesive unit ready to take on any opponent.
“We’re still trying to put a team together, guys are getting to know each other,” Olave said. “There are a lot of new players and a lot of new faces and that’s what we were missing today, we need to get to know each other so that we can play as a team.”