Recently, I sat in a half empty stadium filled with soccer fans cheering on the new USL side for Utah, the Real Monarchs. Through out the stadium, there was various signs that showed the Real Monarchs logo with the saying: Rise to Royalty. The primary purpose of the Monarchs is to develop players to eventually play for Real Salt Lake, allowing them to Rise to Royalty. In reality though, Real Monarchs are attempting to rise up in more ways than one.
The fans only fill half a stadium, but that is due to seating restrictions put into place by the club. Even though half a stadium isn’t filled, the fan’s passion is apparent. In the North corner, a small group of supporters stand holding tifos and banging drums. As the subs warm up in front of the group, it is evident that they appreciate the gestures. As they jog, they make jokes with the fans and give quick smiles during stretching as the group of fans start to sing.
After the game, the players walk the concrete barriers separating the field from the fans giving out high fives to the kids and telling fans “thanks for the support.” These players understand what they are building right now: a new culture of soccer. Real Salt Lake has been building since 2005, and the emergence of the Real Monarchs has lead to the next building block being put in place.
At one time, RSL faced similar issues: stadiums not selling out, lack of results on the field, lack of an identity, etc. They are now pushing to be king of the pro teams in all of Utah. With the same brain trust at Real Salt Lake helping to run Real Monarchs, the fans get to see a team built from the bottom up again. The talent is there, and much like various MLS teams, the results are a lack of making the correct decisions.
Those correct decisions come with time. The simple stuff can be taught, but the appreciation that the team has for the fans is something that isn’t taught, but is evidently there. As the players, fans, and front office of both Real Salt Lake and Real Monarchs continue to build up this culture it is time for us as fans to help out. As we stand in the fans, scream for the players, bang our drums, and hold up our scarves we all play a key role in helping Real Monarchs (and soccer as a whole) Rise to Royalty in Utah.