Photo courtesy Real Monarchs SLC
HERRIMAN, Utah – Chandler Hoffman scored his 50th regular-season goal in the USL, and provided the only goal as Real Monarchs SLC took a 1-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC on Tuesday night at Zions Banks Stadium. Monarchs winger Maikel Chang almost gave the hosts the lead in the ninth minute as his curled finish from the edge of the penalty area went just wide of the left post, while Sacramento’s Adam Moffatt forced a fingertip save from Real goalkeeper Jake Leeker eight minutes later with a good half-volley from 25 yards. Four minutes into the second half Sacramento’s Villyan Bijev forced a low save from Leeker, only for Moffat to be fouled as he tried to put away the rebound. The Scottish midfielder stepped up himself to take the penalty kick, but his shot to the right corner was saved by Leeker, giving the Monarchs goalkeeper consecutive games with a penalty kick denial. Real’s Charlie Adams was turned away by Sacramento goalkeeper Josh Cohen in the 53rd minute, but 15 minutes later Hoffman put the hosts ahead as he slid home a finish from Chang’s slipped pass into the penalty area to reach a landmark moment for his career. Sacramento came close to an equalizer with 11 minutes to go, only for Leeker to keep out Bijev’s shot from 14 yards, but after Christian Eissele’s header went wide of the right post in the final minute the Monarchs held on for an important bounce-back victory.
68’ – SLC – Chandler Hoffman (Maikel Chang)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Real Monarchs SLC forward Chandler Hoffman had been waiting since April 11 for the moment that finally arrived on Tuesday night, but the 50th regular-season goal of his USL career came on a finish that showed the veteran at his best. Reading the run and passing lane created by Maikel Chang cutting in from the right side, Hoffman timed his run to perfection to put home a first-time finish as he found space between his marker and the goalkeeper once again. Now the third player to score 50 times in the regular season of the USL’s modern era after Dane Kelly and Jorge Herrera, Hoffman is also the fastest of the three to reach the landmark with the achievement arriving in his 100th USL regular-season contest.
2. Hoffman’s goal served as the game-winner thanks to another stellar display by Monarchs goalkeeper Jake Leeker, who for a second consecutive game saved a penalty kick as part of a four-save shutout that kept a lively Republic FC attack at bay. Leeker is the latest Monarchs goalkeeper to step to the fore since the start of last season, during which time the club has saved eight penalty kicks with the 22-year-old following the example set by Connor Sparrow and Andrew Putna a season ago. With the game still scoreless at the time of Leeker’s save on Republic FC’s Adam Moffatt, the young goalkeeper provided the first pivotal moment of the game for the hosts.
3. Sacramento will likely look back on tonight’s game with disappointment as the fine margins between itself and the Monarchs just tilted the way of the hosts, but the result continued the recent way this series as a whole has gone for Republic FC, which has now lost four consecutive regular-season games to the Monarchs dating back to the 2016 season. Sacramento missed out on the chance to close the gap to one point at the top of the Western Conference standings, and will now have to summon a bounce-back display of its own as it hosts Orange County SC this Saturday night.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Chandler Hoffman, Real Monarchs SLC – Hoffman’s landmark night saw the striker have the desired effect after coming on as a second-half substitute to help the Monarchs take a five-point lead in the conference standings.
Real Monarchs SLC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC – June 4, 9 p.m. ET, Zions Bank Stadium
Sacramento Republic FC vs. Orange County SC – June 2, 11 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park