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Real Salt Lake: Red-hot Monarchs players to join RSL in Open Cup opener at Sacramento

Published June 14, 2017 1:40 pm

Real Salt Lake • Petke calls on his former charges.
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Sandy • Before his imprint set the Real Monarchs blazing down the path they've remained on ever since, Mike Petke was just another new head coach of a new organization trying to impact a group of new players. He has credited Real Salt Lake's USL affiliate with helping him fall back in love with coaching again.

Petke will get another shot with some of them.

As Real Salt Lake hits the road in the fourth round of the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament Wednesday against USL franchise Sacramento Republic FC, it does so with Petke heading RSL now, having been hired in late March.

Initially brought on board in the offseason as Real Monarchs coach, Petke made the internal jump and has since experienced the ups and downs of a midseason coaching change.

RSL is still finding out what kind of team it is under Petke, but with the Open Cup date, he's decided to call in "a number" of Monarchs players for the Open Cup match in Sacramento.

And the Monarchs are on a tear.

They've tied a USL record with eight straight wins and have an 11-1-0 record. Those 33 points earned are more than any other USL team at the moment. So as RSL preps for a return to league play Saturday night at home against Minnesota United, a split-squad of RSL reserve players and Monarchs players heads to California's capital hoping to advance in America's oldest running soccer tournament.

"I know we have the talent and I know we have the guys, especially Monarchs guys who we invite up, who are extremely excited to prove that they belong at this level," Petke said. "And we also have guys traveling with us that perhaps are not getting the minutes that they want, so this is their opportunity to prove it as well."

RSL will be able to take as many Monarchs players as it wants, but a caveat in the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement doesn't allow players from USL affiliates who are older than 26 to be called in for competitive matches with MLS clubs.

That rules out Monarchs leading scorer Chandler Hoffman (eight goals) and attacking midfielder, former RSL man Sebastian Velasquez (six goals, four assists).

Petke called the rule "ridiculous" and said "he's gutted" that the Monarchs' top two attackers can't feature for RSL in this Open Cup match.

Upon hearing the news he'd be ineligible, Velasquez took to Twitter, writing a lengthy note of his frustrations.

"If you can play, no matter what your age is, then you should be on the field," he wrote. "Simple as that."

Awaiting RSL is a one of the most raucous environments in USL. Sacramento's MLS expansion aspirations have been front-and-center as the league continues to decide who joins in the future.

Monarchs captain Nick Besler said Sacramento will be ready to use a platform of hosting an MLS team as an example.

"They're going to be up for it, unlike any other game that they've played this year," Besler said.

"They have a major league environment that they play in," Petke said. "They are going to be completely up for this."

As will the number of Monarchs players called upon to carry over the momentum of their impressive start to RSL in a do-or-die tournament format.

"When we come up here, we should know how [Petke] wants us to play and what he expects from us," Besler said.

ckamrani@sltrib.com Twitter: @chriskamrani —

Real Salt Lake at Sacramento Republic FC

P Fourth round of 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup At Papa Murphy's Park, Sacramento, Calif.

Kickoff • 9 p.m., Wednesday

TV • Livestream on RSL.com Radio • 700 AM

Last meeting • RSL won 2-0 in September 2014 friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium

About Sacramento • Sits in 10th place in the USL Western Conference at 4-6-3. … Former Seattle Sounders forward Sammy Ochoa leads team with four goals in 2017. … Former Toronto FC midfielder Jeremy Hall has started 12 matches this season. … Sacramento lost its lone match against Real Monarchs this year, 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on May 13. … In its debut season, Sacramento won the 2014 USL title.

About RSL • Coach Mike Petke said a number of Monarchs players will be called in to play for RSL. … According to CBA regulations, Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez are ineligible since they're over 26. … Petke said he expects RSL's David Horst and Jordan Allen, both coming off injury, to see some minutes. … Like the team, Petke said he'll split up RSL and Monarchs coaches this week, taking Monarchs assistants Matt Gleaser and Jamison Olave and RSL assistant Tyrone Marshall to Sacramento.






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