In a match that New Mexico United needed to pick up points from, they committed too many mistakes in the second half and allowed rivals El Paso Locomotive to come from behind.
The night started strong for both sides as they worked to find the opening goal. Both clubs showed a high press to some extent, El Paso looking to disrupt United trying to play out of the back. At the same time, United was trying to move the ball side to side and spread out the play on the pitch. It wasn’t until the 23rd before one of the clubs had a clear chance on goal, and it was United who had that opportunity. Andrew Tinari opted to try from distance and forced Logan Ketterer to make a save.
Whenever these two clubs meet, there’s a level of physicality that comes out from them that isn’t seen against other clubs. That was evident win the 33rd when both Brian Brown and Eder Borelli became entangled inside the Locomotive box. Both players went down, and each received a yellow for their parts in the fall.
Minutes later, an early tactical change from Troy Lesesne gave United a slightly different look and resulted in the first goal of the match. Josh Suggs and Harry Swartz switched sides of the pitch, and it seemed to open up more room on the right side of the pitch. In the 39th, United played the ball to that side looking for Brown, and Yuma went to ground, giving up a handball and a dangerous free-kick opportunity to the visitors. Both Brown and Devon Sandoval stood over the ball, 20 yards out, and it was Brown who took charge. His low, driven shot went under the leaping wall and into the bottom right corner of the net for the lead.
United carried that lead into the second half, but El Paso was up to the challenge of playing from behind. They came out of the break pressing high and not allowing United to settle on the ball. The sustained pressure caused Juan Pablo Guzman to make the first mistake of the second half. In an attempt to play the ball out of the defensive third, Guzman didn’t get enough on the ball, and his pass was intercepted by Nick Ross. Moments later, Diego Luna put his toe to leather and fired from distance. Alex Tambakis was unable to make the save, and the hosts pulled level, 1-1.
Minutes later, Ross intercepted another pass, this time, Michael Azira was looking for Tinari. Ross’s interception gave El Paso a chance to play the ball wide to Bryam Rebellon. Rebellon would shoot from the wide angle, and Tambakis made a diving stop to his left. Unable to corral the ball, the rebound fell to the opportunistic Mares, who easily slotted home his second goal of the match.
From there, it was a matter of whether or not United could answer. In the end, they were unable to find another goal and lost their third consecutive match.
Player of the Match
Brian Brown – In what was arguably his best performance of the year so far, Brown looked dangerous at times, and he was getting service around the box. While he didn’t make the most of his chances on the ball, he did score the lone goal for United by smartly sending a free-kick under the wall.
New Mexico United returns to action on Friday, July 9, when they return to The Lab to take on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT).