Monarchs defeat Louisville City 3-1 to capture first USL championship

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Real Monarchs midfielder Maikel Chang, shown during a match in April, scored a goal in the Monarchs' 6-2 playoff win over Orange County on Saturday, Oct. 26.

They did it.

The Real Monarchs won the 2019 United Soccer League Championship title on Sunday with a 3-1 road win over Louisville City. It’s the first USL title for the Monarchs, who also became the first team in the league to win a final as the road team.

“Nobody had us in this position except for us, nobody,” defender Kalen Ryden said. “Nobody had us here and this group, three games in a row, we’ve gone down a goal and we came back, that just shows everything, everything about this team. And I’m so proud of these guys.”

The Monarchs pulled off the seemingly impossible after beating the top-seeded Phoenix Rising on the road in the Western Conference semifinals, a result many considered a huge upset. In addition, the team went down a goal three games in a row and came back to win them all.

Magnus Rasmussen scored for Louisville in the sixth minute, and the team controlled the first 15 minutes a result. But the Monarchs answered with a goal by defender Erik Holt in the 25th.

Just before halftime, Konrad Plewa gave the Monarchs a 2-1 lead off a recycled ball. Midfielder Luke Mulholland floated a cross into the box and Plewa put it away on a header. Plewa was named the MVP of the championship final.

“It means everything,” Plewa said of the title.

Noah Powder provided the insurance goal in the 66th minute, and goalkeeper David Ochoa provided two big saves down the stretch to secure the score line.

As captain Jack Blake hoisted the championship trophy, the Monarchs erupted in cheers behind him and sang the “Ole, Ole, Ole” song as they jumped up and down. It’s a championship that came despite having some bouts of adversity throughout the 2019 season.

The Monarchs got off to a slow start and their coach, Martín Vasquez, left the team midseason. Jamison Olave took over as coach and little by little, the team started to improve.

Not long before the playoffs started, Olave changed the team’s formation to a 3-5-2. He said recently that despite some growing pains, the players bought in to the change and it worked to their benefit.

Olave’s future job is uncertain going into the offseason, but some players have already said he’s done enough to warrant serious consideration for the head coaching job next year.

Before this season, the Monarchs had never won a single playoff game.

“It sounds [like a] fairytale. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you right now, I’m speechless," said Blake. "I think just hard work, we’ve been saying it the whole playoffs. We were more than confident in our group, we knew we could come here and do a job, but to actually do it — I’m speechless.”