We're still trying to get better in the final third, thats a work in progress, thats obviously the hardest part of the game is breaking down teams. —Coach Freddy Juarez
SANDY — The conditions were anything but ideal for the Real Monarchs home opener on Wednesday with temperatures in the mid-30s and rain coming down most of the match.
For Justen Glad, however, it was the perfect night for soccer.
One of seven Real Salt Lake players loaned to the Monarchs for Wednesdays match, Glad was playing in his first match in six months after offseason knee surgery, and was obviously thrilled to be back on the field.
The night got even better in the 27th minute when the 18-year-old Glad headed home his first professional goal on free kick by Lucas Baldin as the Monarchs earned a 1-1 draw with Portland Timbers 2 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"I can't really describe the feeling to be honest. It feels amazing to score my first goal, and get the tie," said Glad. "Every set piece I feel like its an opportunity to score (so) youve just got to commit to it. He put the ball in a perfect spot. It wouldve been bad if I didn't finish it."
Glads goal leveled the score at 1-1 after Portlands Fatawu Safiu opened the scoring just seven minutes into the match.
Coach Freddy Juarez was disappointed with his teams slow start, but was pleased with the response as the Monarchs earned a draw to improve to 0-1-2 on the season.
After losing at Portland 3-1 back on March 29, Juarez thought his team was much better in possession in the rematch, especially when midfielder Pecka entered the match after halftime.
Juarez said the Monarchs' efficiency in the final third will eventually get better, but the focus has primarily been on defending and possession in the midfield since the expansion team got underway just a few months ago.
"We're still trying to get better in the final third, thats a work in progress, thats obviously the hardest part of the game is breaking down teams," said Juarez.
Along with Pecka and Glad, the other five Real Salt Lake players loaned to the Monarchs were Lalo Fernandez, Boyd Okwuonu, Phanuel Kavita, Fito Ovalle and Sebastian Saucedo. Pecka was the only player who didnt start.
Baldin said their addition is always welcome.
"They add a lot of experience and a lot of professionalism. Im really glad that those guys are able to come down here because when they come down here they're part of this team. Theyre not coming down here just to get minutes, they're coming down here to win," said Baldin.
Portland was forced to play the final 21 minutes with only 10 men after Rennico Clarke picked up his second yellow card on a dangerous tackle against Reals Ricardo Velazco.
Despite the man advantage, the Monarchs put together only one clear-cut chance and Portland keeper Jake Gleeson was there to deny Pecka's close-range shot in the 90th minute.
"It's not always easy playing a team that's down to 10. They stop attacking and theyre not as opened up, so its hard to break them down, and I thought we created two or three pretty good chances to go ahead," said Juarez.
The Monarchs return to action this Saturday when they host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks at 4:30 p.m.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer.