New Mexico United hosts San Antonio FC in rematch from 2020 playoffs

On Wednesday night, New Mexico United will have their first chance of the season to show what they can do on short rest. Any of the players that were part of the club during its inaugural season will bring a ton of experience to this years’ squad and will be able to pass along what they learned. Back in 2019, United played on as little as three days’ rest twice while making their Open Cup run. 

This isn’t 2019, and this isn’t the same club roster, but the lessons remain the same. It all comes down to preparation. Head Coach Troy Lesesne spoke to their training leading up to this match after the draw to Austin Bold FC on Saturday and stated that their week would most likely consist of light work and recovery for those who played on Saturday night. 

Those preparations will be of the utmost importance against a club like San Antonio FC. SAFC is a big, physical club and doesn’t sit back as Bold did. For most of the season, they’ve run a 442, but the past few weeks have shown a couple of different formations, none of which are defensive by nature. Their stats are a reflection of this, eleven goals scored and eight allowed through seven matches. 

They are a dangerous side and are typically led by Santiago Patino, but they remain without his services after he was sent off during a recent match with Colorado Springs. In his place, SAFC turned to Justin Dhillon as the lone striker for the next match. They may do the same on Wednesday or insert 21-year-old Nathan from Brazil. Both are capable scorers; it’s just a matter of if they can break down United’s defense. 

Player to Watch

Sam Gleadle – The former Lobo got his professional start here with the Albuquerque Sol before moving on to Reno 1868. After Reno folded, Sam signed a short-term contract with MLS side Minnesota United. This match marks Sam’s second trip back to Albuquerque since leaving the Sol. A versatile player, Sam can make his mark on the match at either end of the pitch.

New Mexico United comes into the match this week after a frustrating result against Austin Bold. Despite dominating possession and total shots, they couldn’t break down a tough 541 formation enough to get a single shot on target. 

That shouldn’t be the case against San Antonio. Under Alen Marcina, the visitors generally come out in more attacking formations, leaving chances for their opponents in the final third. That bodes well for United, who are always looking to go forward and open up spaces. 

As important as United’s attack is, this match will likely hinge on their defensive play, particularly inside the box. San Antonio has some big bodies on their roster, and that size advantage can create mismatches inside the box. This match presents a great opportunity to potentially see a trio of Kalen Ryden, Justin Schmidt, and Josh Suggs at the back. The combined size of those three could make life difficult for San Antonio in the final third. 

Player to Watch

Kalen Ryden – After a couple of tough outings earlier in the season, Ryden has rebounded and regained his form from the past few years. His presence on the pitch and match awareness will be key in keeping San Antonio out of the net. 

Wednesday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT) from The Lab. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ domestically and on YouTube internationally. The match will also be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and website. 

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