The Orange County Blues will look to make a season sweep over new USL side Real Monarchs SLC when the two teams clash on Saturday night (6:30 pm PT). They are meeting exactly one week after their debut match against one another, that ended 1-0 to the Blues in Irvine on the strength of Denzel Slager's goal and good Orange County defense. Can they make it two wins in a row over the same opponent, or will Real Monarchs have a rebuttal to last week's result?
It's always interesting for two teams to play each other twice in a row. In this case, the first meeting should help and hurt both sides. It'll help in that the respective coaches have seen their teams line up against the opponents and tinker with their strategies in order to gain the upper hand. Of course it also takes away the element of surprise and holes in the opponent's understanding of a team's game. In the end, it could be a wash, or it could play a significant role in this game.
For the Blues, although they held firm last week, they barely held on with the same strategy the previous game, when they grabbed a first half lead against LA Galaxy II but after bunkering throughout the second half, gave up the lead and hung on to the draw by the narrowest of margins. Against SLC last week, they were stronger in their resolve in staying in their own half and soaking up pressure -- but will Freddy Juarez's men have new methods to try and counter the nine men behind the ball? What if the hosts take the lead -- will the Blues be able to cope and find a way back?
On paper, the Blues have a good chance, even though they'll be in a new stadium, because they're in the playoff hunt and Real Monarchs are bringing up the rear in the West. But given how close last week's game ultimately was, it seems like this one won't be a blowout, either. Both teams will likely have a shot at points until the final whistle.
Tale of the Tape*:
OC Blues: 27 points (8-8-3), 6th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -4 (25/29); Last five matches: W-D-D-L-L
Real Monarchs:12 points (2-10-6), 12 place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -10 (18/28); Last five matches: L-W-D-L-L
*Standings information as of Thursday, July 30.
How to Watch: Real Monarchs vs. OC Blues will kick off at 6:30 pm PT on Saturday in Sandy, Utah. You can watch the game on YouTube, live or on demand. We've included the stream below for your convenience.
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