Who Will Be The Monarchs’ USL Pro Rivals?

March 6th, 2015 | by Sean Walker
The Timbers and Galaxy Reserve teams play in a game last season. Who will be the Real Monarch's rival in 2015?

The Timbers and Galaxy Reserve teams play in a game last season. Who will be the Real Monarchs’ rival in 2015?

The USL has its conference structure (East and West), its full schedule (336 total games), pairing Real Salt Lake’s third-division affiliate Real Monarchs SLC in the Western Conference alongside the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Arizona United, L.A. Galaxy II, Orange County Blues, Sacramento Republic FC, Seattle Sounders 2, Portland Timbers 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2, Oklahoma City Energy FC, Tulsa Roughnecks and Austin Aztex.

The 24-team league will also feature 12-team playoffs, with the top two teams receiving a first-round bye — similar to the current structure of the MLS Cup playoffs.

With that in mind, the league also dropped this bit of scheduling news regarding teams in each conference.

That means that the Monarchs will not see home-and-away matches against every team from the East, a travel-friendly option that essentially divides the league in half and brings them together only a handful of times before the playoffs begin.

But every good team (and its supporters) needs a rival. Where will the Monarchs find their own?

RSL has built up several strong rivalries in its 11 years in Major League Soccer, including (but not limited to) the Colorado Rapids, L.A. Galaxy, and Seattle Sounders. As the Monarchs are establishing themselves as a semi-separate entity from RSL, the new club needs a true rival.

The RSL Reserve team played a match against defending USL Pro champions Sacramento Republic FC last year, finishing with a 2-0 win that included goals by Robbie Findley and Sebastian Velasquez — two players no longer with the club — that could build toward a strong rivalry.

Similarly, the Reserves played a friendly against Pittsburgh last year, leading to a 5-1 thumping by the Riverhounds in front of nearly 10,000 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. Will the Monarchs look for revenge from that embarrassment every time the Riverhounds are in town?

A natural geographic rivalry would include the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, a team founded in 2013 that doesn’t yet have a complete roster.

RSL’s homegrown first-team rivalry with the L.A. Galaxy would suggest a natural fit in considering L.A. Galaxy II a natural rival. But the Monarchs could make similar claims with Seattle 2 and Portland 2, both of whom have seen heated first-team matches in the past few seasons.

Arizona United SC is the longest tenured team in the Western Conference, and RSL sent several players on loan to the USL Pro club and its antecedent, Phoenix Wolves FC, that could lead to a strong rivalry. RSL has already “invaded” Arizona’s territory with its Casa Grandes, Arizona-based academy in the desert.

What do you think? Do the Monarchs already have a rival, or will you be looking for a natural rivalry to spring up organically this year? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

 

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.

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