Photo courtesy Sacramento Republic FC
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Real Monarchs SLC opened a five-point lead in the race for the USL Regular Season Championship with a 2-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC at Papa Murphy’s Park in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3. Sacramento opened brightly, and almost took the lead in the eighth minute when Trevin Caesar laid off a pass to a charging Agustin Cazarez at the top of the penalty area, but the midfielder’s shot went just high and wide of the top-right corner. Juan Mare went close for the Monarchs in the 22nd minute on the first real chance for the visitors, but his shot went over the crossbar from 22 yards out, but the Argentinian went closer on the half-hour mark as he forced a save from Republic FC goalkeeper Evan Newton. Mare again went close eight minutes before halftime as he fired a stinging shot that Newton parried to safety, while Republic FC also just missed out on taking the lead in the 43rd minute as Sammy Ochoa’s header was deflected just over the crossbar from a corner kick. The Monarchs took the lead two minutes into the second half as Charlie Adams kept a play alive, and while Mare’s initial effort from Adams’ low cross-shot was saved by Newton, the Argentinian put away the rebound from close range. Two minutes later Chandler Hoffman doubled Real’s lead, a speculative ball forward after a free kick was cleared to midfield by Max Lachowecki found the forward for a lobbed finish and his 15th goal of the season. Ochoa almost answered for Sacramento in the 57th minute as Ochoa got to a near-post cross by James Kiffe from the left, only to put his finish wide. Hoffman almost added his second of the night in the 68th minute, but sent his header wide from the top of the six-yard area. Sacramento pushed late to get back into the game, and was awarded a penalty kick in the final minute, but Ochoa’s shot to the bottom-right corner was denied by Putna as the Monarchs preserved the shutout victory.
47’ – SLC – Juan Mare
49’ – SLC – Chandler Hoffman (Max Lachowecki)
Three Things That Matter:
1. As the day began, Real Monarchs SLC was under some pressure in the race for the USL Regular Season Championship. After breaking a season-high four-game winless streak, Real is now firmly back in the driver’s seat for the first silverware of the 2017 season as it moved five points clear of both Eastern Conference-leader Louisville City FC – which lost earlier in the night to Toronto FC II – and Reno 1868 FC. Saturday’s clash with Reno remains crucial, but the Monarchs can now go into Greater Nevada Field with an important confidence boost.
2. The Monarchs have looked to get out to fast starts much of the season, but on Wednesday night it was the side’s burst out of the blocks to start the second half that proved decisive. Both goals were opportunistic, as broken plays after set pieces were kept alive by the visitors, but the finishes by Juan Mare – his first goal since arriving at the club – and Chandler Hoffman rewarded the persistence to put Real in control. After a frustrating night in front of goal against Orange County in the side’s last outing, the Monarchs regained their scoring touch at a crucial moment in the stretch run.
3. Sacramento avoided the slow start of its past two outings, and threatened to take the lead early on, but once again was unable to provide a bounce-back win on another frustrating night at Papa Murphy’s Park. Republic FC is still in position to claim a place in the USL Cup Playoffs, but on the third anniversary of the club’s 2014 USL Cup victory the road to a second championship at the end of this season looks like one that will need a big late-season upswing.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Juan Mare, Real Monarchs SLC – Mare’s first goal for the Monarchs set the stage for a big victory for the visitors as the Monarchs moved one step closer to their first silverware in club history.
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC – September 30, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Real Monarchs SLC at Reno 1868 FC – September 30, 10 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field