Real Monarchs clinch first USL regular-season championship

The Real Monarchs, who lost head coach Mike Petke, promoted to head coach of the Real Salt Lake one game into the USL season, captured the regular-season championship on Saturday.

USL regular-season champions:
2011 Orlando City
2012 Orlando City
2013 Richmond
2014 Orlando City
2015 Rochester
2016 NY Red Bulls II
2017 Real Monarchs

Their 1-1 tie against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 before a season-high crowd of 8,402 followed San Antonio FC's 1-1 tie with the Tampa Bay Rowdies that clinched the title.

Big offseason pickups. The Real Monarchs were 12th and 11th in the Western Conference in their first two USL seasons, but the addition of USL veterans Chandler Hoffman, Matt Besler and Daniel Haber, plus Sebastian Velasquez, who spent four seasons in MLS, and Kyle Curinga, who played his first two pro seasons in Finland, helped turn them around.

2017 Real  Monarchs (most starts):
29 Chandler Hoffman (team-high 16 goals, 1st season),
29 Matt Besler (No. 5 pick in 2015 MLS SuperDraft, 1st season)
26 Max Lachowecki (Notre Dame product, 2nd season)
25 James Moberg (University of Washington product, 2nd season)
24 Charlie Adams (23-year-old Englishman, 2nd season)
23 Kyle Curinga (formerly with GBK and JJ Jaro in Finland, 1st season)
23 Sebastian Velasquez (formerly with RSL and NYCFC, 1st season)
22 Andrew Brody (University of Louisville product, 2nd season)
20 Daniel Haber (Canadian international, 1st season)

Road success. The Monarchs lost only one of 15 games at Rio Tinto Stadium, but their success on the road got them over the goal line. Head coach Mark Briggs pointed to a 2-2 tie at San Antonio in July and shutout road wins at Sac Republic FC and Reno 1868 in September as keys to the title run.

Real Monarchs head coach Mark Briggs: "I think that the performance tonight and the attitude of the players and throughout the whole year has been different class. I’m a little bit wet so I’m trying to get a bit of composure but it’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m proud of the players, my staff, the front office, everyone associated with the club, Mike included, it’s an amazing feeling."

USL Standings:
59 *Louisville City
51 *Charleston   
50 *Tampa Bay
48 *Charlotte
47 *Rochester
44 NY Red Bulls II 
43 Bethlehem Steel  
43 FC Cincinnati
42 ^Orlando City B
37 ^Harrisburg
37 ^Ottawa
35 ^Saint Louis FC
35 ^Pittsburgh
32 ^Richmond
25 ^Toronto II

64 *Real Monarchs
58 *Reno 1868
56 *San Antonio FC
55 *Swope Park Rangers
55 *Phoenix
46 *Tulsa
46 *OKC Energy FC
45 *Sac Republic FC
41 ^Colorado Springs
40 ^Orange County SC
35 ^Rio Grande Valley  FC
31 ^Sounders FC 2
29 ^LA Galaxy II
24 ^Whitecaps 2
15 ^Timbers 2
*Clinched playoff berths.
^Eliminated from playoffs.
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