Monarchs GameDay: Baldin settling into leadership role with USL side

April 8th, 2015 | by Sean Walker

Lucas Baldin celebrating an AAC championship at South Florida

In another year, Lucas Baldin’s tenure with Real Salt Lake might have been significantly different.

Baldin was drafted by RSL in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft, and he spent all of preseason with the first team, including playing at every midfield spot during the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Arizona. But because of the depth and skill at his primary central midfield spot, Baldin’s time with the top-flight roster seemed to be limited.

But Real Monarchs SLC gave him a chance — and he’s embraced it.

Baldin signed with the Monarchs (0-1-1) at the start of the season, and he’s seized a leadership role with the inaugural USL squad, which will play its first-ever home match Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. The match will also be the second against Portland Timbers 2 (2-0-0), the upstart squad from the Pacific Northwest that followed up a 3-1 win over the Monarchs two weeks ago with a 2-0 win over defending USL champ Sacramento Republic FC last week.

The 23-year-old native of Taubate, Brazil doesn’t seem his time with the organization’s third-dvision side as a demotion, either. He’s just happy to be able to play professionally.

“To get first-team experience was great in the preseason,” Baldin said. “As soon as we stepped out of the first team, hopefully we were already used to the system and the culture.

“Now it’s time to use all the experiences I’ve had in my career and in college, and use it toward helping the Monarchs win. That’s why we’re here: we want to reach our goals (individually) as professional soccer players, but also to win games and win championships.”

Baldin was a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist as a senior at South Florida in 2014, when he compiled a team-high nine assists and five goals. He paced the Bulls on a run to the finals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, and earned first-team all-tournament and all-conference honors for the achievement.

He started for their Monarchs at central midfield in the team’s inaugural game, a 0-0 draw at L.A. Galaxy II on March 22, and again donned the captain’s armband in a 90-minute effort during the Monarchs’ 3-1 loss at Portland Timbers 2 on March 29.

Appearing in the middle of the Monarchs’ 4-3-3 formation, the same system employed by the first team, has been a badge of honor for Baldin. The rookie considers himself a classic two-way player, who can run box-to-box or settle into one side of the field depending on the conditions of the game.

“I feel like here they give a lot of confidence to the center midfielders to play, because every ball has to pass through them,” Baldin said. “As soon as you get the ball, you feel more confident and you have to pass that confidence to your teammates. That transition from the first team to the Monarchs has been great. It’s a great setup.”

The Monarchs are still looking for their first win of the season, and hope to get it with a turnaround game against T2 on Wednesday in their second game against the Timbers in two matches.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Baldin said. “I’ve gone to train with the first team, and to be welcomed by the guys from that group is fantastic.

“All of the guys were great since day one that I have been glad to be a part of this institution. It worked out for me to come to the Monarchs, and here I am — really excited for what the future holds. I’m really glad to be here in Utah, and really glad to be a part of this great organization.”

You can watch the Monarchs’ home opener on the club’s YouTube channel, with video embedded here before the start of the game.

 

Sean Walker

Sean Walker

Salt City FC editor-in-chief Sean Walker has been covering soccer at all levels since 2007. He began his career in Las Vegas, and has since written for publications from the Intermountain West to Central New York, where he attended graduate school in 2012. Currently, Sean covers Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer for KSL.com. A struggling Evertonian by birth, Sean follows European soccer through the blue lens of the Toffees, and has strong feelings toward the UEFA Europa League.

Leave a Reply