Best of the Locker Room Blog

United resign Wehan ahead of first clash with Oakland Roots

After dropping two more points to the Mountain Division leaders, New Mexico United has to quickly rebound when they face Oakland Roots on Wednesday night. Given United’s current form, a visit from Oakland could be beneficial for United.

While United supporters were spoiled during the club’s first season, Roots supporters haven’t been so lucky. A tumultuous pre-season saw their manager leave, and the issues continued into the season with postponed matches and facility issues. Those issues and the play on the pitch have contributed to a record of 2-8-4 on the season so far. The Roots’ vision to Albuquerque could feature the return of a former United player, Saalih Muhammad.

Oakland is a club that hasn’t figured out an identity yet. They don’t have a true scoring threat, and they aren’t solid in the defensive third. Through 14 matches played, they have scored 10 goals while conceding 23. Their scoring woes have resulted in them being held goalless nine times, and they sit at the bottom of the entire league in scoring. Neither of those stats bode well for the Roots on Wednesday against a United side that already has five clean sheets to their credit.

Player to Watch

Jesus Enriquez – Despite only appearing in 11 matches so far this season, Enriquez has been showing his worth to the Roots organization. He currently leads the club in chances created, ranks second in shots taken and goals scored, and is tied for the club lead in assists. The 24-year-old forward still has a lot of development ahead of him, but he’s shown flashes of what he can do.

New Mexico United is still looking to snap their winless streak after the stunning result against El Paso over the weekend. In a match that United seemed to have figured some of their issues out, their inability to close out the match against the 10-man Locomotive cost them two important points. With any luck, their newest signing will be able to help break out of the slump they are in.

On Tuesday, New Mexico United announced that they had acquired Chris Wehan from Orange County SC for an undisclosed fee. Reports from Orange County indicated that the fee was a record for an intra-USL transfer. Wehan returns to United after leaving before the 2021 season to play for his hometown club. The re-introduction of Wehan will provide United with a proven goal-scoring threat and creativity in the final third.

Even with their offensive issues, the club has continued to play well defensively. There were some struggles maintaining possession against El Paso, but the matchup against Oakland should go in United’s favor.

Player to Watch

Chris Wehan – If Wehan is available to play on Wednesday, he will be the player to keep an eye on. Wehan should be able to slide right into the team sheet and make an immediate impact. He is familiar with the system that Troy Lesesne likes to use, and his presence on the pitch can create openings going forward.

Wednesday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MST) from The Lab. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+. Fans not in attendance can listen to the game live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.

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United drop points again as El Paso grab late equalizer

After a thirteen-day break, New Mexico United traversed the multiverse on Meow Wolf night and dragged El Paso Locomotive FC along with them. With The Lab decked out and the supporter’s section rocking, United was hopeful that they would put an end to Locomotive’s eight-match unbeaten run. Shortly before kickoff, the news came down that Kalen Ryden would miss the match with back issues. In his absence, Troy Lesesne set a back three of Austin Yearwood, Justin Schmidt, and Rashid Tetteh. 

Through the first twenty minutes of play, neither team was able to sniff out a chance in the final third. Only two shots were credited to the clubs as both appeared to be contemplating their options in the final third. 

A switch flipped after the twentieth minute, and the play on the pitch intensified. More fouls were beginning to be called, and the attack for both sides started to have some teeth to it. Both clubs made mistakes in their own defensive third, Logan Ketterer playing the ball directly to Andrew Tinari and Rashid Tetteh with a poor back pass. Neither of those mistakes came back to haunt the clubs, but it wasn’t long after that United was able to break through. 

In the 33rd, Sergio Rivas and Amando Moreno finally found a way through the back four of El Paso. With a through ball, Rivas played Moreno behind the defense. With a couple of steps, Moreno drove past Yuma and put a left-footed shot into the back of the net to grab the lead. 

Much like the first half, the second began with a slow build-up in action on the pitch. Despite play opening up prior to the end of the half, both clubs seemed content to try and feel each other out again. El Paso continued their high line, but it had little to no effect on United’s play. 

The tension that had been mounting broke in the 77th as a foul led to a skirmish between the clubs. In the fracas, Diego Luna threw an elbow and was shown a red card for his efforts. Multiple yellows were also shown, and on the receiving end were Daniel Bruce, Andrew Tinari, and Leandro Carrijo, who was on the bench. 

Although they were down to ten men, El Paso remained aggressive and was able to put multiple shots off the posts as they looked for an equalizer. As the match wore on, United struggled to put together possession in the closing minutes and keep the visitors off the ball. 

At the close of regular time, the referee added six minutes of stoppage time. After the added minutes passed, the referee checked his watch but allowed play to continue. As a result of that, El Paso was allowed to continue attacking and won a corner. With the last kick of the game, the ball was delivered into the box, and Matt Bahner was able to put a foot to it and pushed the ball past Alex Tambakis for the equalizer. 

Player of the Match

Austin Yearwood – Austin was easily the best of the back three tonight against the division leaders. Not only did Austin win every duel, but he also contributed 2 tackles, 7 clearances, and 2 interceptions. 

Up Next

United is back in action on Wednesday night as they welcome the expansion club Oakland Roots to The Lab. This is the first meeting between the two clubs. Wednesday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MST)

 

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New Mexico United host El Paso Locomotive FC on Meow Wolf Night

For the fourth and final time of the 2021 regular season, New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive FC face off for control of the Rio Grande. The three prior meetings have resulted in two draws and a loss for United. 

The final matchup between the two rivals is the biggest match of the year to this point for United. After not playing since the first of August, United has seen their position in the table slide from third to sixth. With half of the season still to play, there’s time for United to turn that around and a win against El Paso would be a giant step in the right direction. 

El Paso’s ascent to the top of the table has been extraordinary. They’ve still only lost one match all season and have won four of their last five. Mark Lowry’s club has been the hottest in the league, and the emergence of Diego Luna has been a big part of that. While he doesn’t have the most shots taken for the club, he’s been efficient. Of his 18 total shots, 11 have been on target, with 5 of them finding the back of the net. 

Defensively, El Paso has been sound all season. Their efforts have resulted in eight clean sheets and only ten goals allowed. United will have their work cut out for them if they want to earn three points on Saturday night. 

Player to Watch

Luis Solignac – The leading scorer for the Locomotive through the first half of the season, Solignac is a key target in the final third. Not only is he dangerous himself, but the attention he draws from elsewhere on the pitch opens up options for other players, like Luna. 

New Mexico United returns to the pitch for the first time in two weeks as they celebrate Meow Wolf night. The club and their supporters are all hoping that the celebratory mood will help propel them to their first win in a month. The last time that United was able to take all three points in a match was on July 12 against Charleston Battery. Since that win, United has been held goalless, a trend that needs to change in a hurry. 

That task will be especially hard against El Paso. Not only has United been struggling with their shot selection, but they also haven’t consistently put their efforts on target. Some of those issues have been due to a lack of creativity through the middle of the pitch and United relying primarily on playing from wide positions. While the club has players who are more than capable of crossing the ball in, the creativity needs to come from more areas to open space in the attacking third. 

Recent signing David Najem should be able to help with some of those issues. Not only can Najem play out wide, but he’s also capable of driving into the middle of the pitch. Both of those skill sets will be useful against an El Paso defense that can be very hard to penetrate. 

Player to Watch

Kalen Ryden – Despite his inconsistency at the back this season, Kalen remains a top-tier choice for the defensive third. He’ll need to take command of the back and help organize a defensive effort good enough to stop the Locomotive from getting free chances on goal.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT) from The Lab. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+. Supporters not in attendance can listen to the match live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website. 

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ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM wins NMBA Metro Market Station of the Year for 2020

ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM wins NMBA Metro Market Station of the Year for 2020

We are excited to announce that ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM has been named NMBA Metro Market Radio Station of the year for 2020. Thank you to all of our loyal listeners who have made the trying 2020 year a success. The TEAM focused on helping our community during the COVID-19 Pandemic with TEAM up for New Mexico and TEAM Up For Teachers, along with other community-building projects like the Good Shepherd Center radiothon.

In addition to Station of The Year, ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM earned awards for the following categories:

 

 

 

 

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Return of Moreno and Najem not enough to power United

New Mexico United traveled to Tacoma with hopes of ending the unbeaten home run of the Defiance. The return of Amando Moreno and David Najem was supposed to be a spark for a club that has been struggling on the road.

Things didn’t turn out that way, however.

Moreno was handed the start in his return, and while he provided plenty of energy, his contribution on the pitch was questionable at times. Despite a confident appearance, he was quickly dispossessed multiple times and just didn’t have the touch necessary on the afternoon. He had an attempt inside the first quarter-hour, but it was easily handled by Defiance keeper Andy Thomas.

The best opportunity from either side came from the hosts when Alex Tambakis was forced to make a diving save to his left. He was forced into action after a powerful header came by way of Sam Adeniran. As the two sides traded possession, neither could gain the advantage in terms of finding a true threat on the net.

United’s efforts nearly paid off just after the hour mark. Twice within a matter of minutes, Moreno found himself played through the backline of the Defiance, the first time his shot was saved while in a one-on-one with Thomas. The second attempt took Moreno to the left of the goal, and Thomas came off his line to try and meet him. As Thomas went to the ground, he attempted to play the ball but completely missed and instead took down Moreno as he played around the keeper. Despite the clear contact from Thomas, the referee did not award a penalty to United.

The visitors were able to create a few chances after those from Moreno, but none would come as close to breaking open the scoring. At the same time, Tacoma was unable to threaten at the other end of the pitch, and both sides walked away with a point for their efforts.

Player of the Match

Alex Tambakis – Credited with two more saves this week, Tambakis had another stellar performance. The result today gives United and Tambakis five clean sheets for the season.

Up Next

United has an extended break from league play before they return to action on Saturday, August 14. When they do return to the pitch, they will once again play host to El Paso Locomotive FC for their final regular-season match against their rivals. The last time the two sides met, they played to a goalless draw at The Lab.

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United face difficult cross division test in Tacoma Defiance

New Mexico United reaches the halfway point of their 2021 schedule this weekend as they take on Tacoma Defiance for the first time since 2019. As part of the league’s format for this season, United is taking part in eight matches outside of the Mountain Division, with this being the third one.

The trip to Tacoma could be overlooked given the club’s historical results. Tacoma finished outside of the playoff positions in each of the past two seasons, earning less than a point per match in each campaign. Something is clicking for Defiance at home in 2021. Through five matches at Cheney Stadium, they are unbeaten and have only allowed three goals on their home pitch.

Their success at home appears to be the result of the play of the defense rather than the play of the goalkeepers. Four different players have taken their place between the sticks for Defiance, and none have stood out in their efforts. The outfield players have been very good this season, but they’ll have to play around the absence of Eric Kinzer. Kinzer was sent off in their last match against San Diego Loyal after receiving a straight red.

Player to Watch

Carlos Anguiano – Since he began his career with Timbers 2, Anguiano has been an important piece of their midfield. His performance on the pitch in 2019 made him one of USL’s players under 20 to watch. He has continued to improve and has scored twice so far this season for a side that has struggled at times to find the net.

United is still looking for answers as their season hits the halfway mark. Their previous two matches against San Antonio and El Paso show that there are still areas that need improvement. One of those is the midfield. Whether in defense or creating chances going forward, there have been struggles throughout the season.

There are reasons to be hopeful, though, as United received good news this week. Amando Moreno is returning to the club after his call-up during the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The club also announced the return of defensive midfielder David Najem, who was signed as the first mid-season signing in club history. Najem was an integral part of the midfield during the 2020 season and has spent time with the Afgan National Team since the end of the season. His return is a welcome addition after the injury to Sam Hamilton and the upcoming suspension for Juan Pablo Guzman.

The return of Moreno should also provide a spark for United’s attack. At times the club has looked lost and lacking creativity, particularly through the middle of the pitch. Moreno brings a diverse set of skills and draws a lot of attention from opposing clubs. He can create chances that have been sorely missed in his absence. With him on the pitch, United has been a lot more threatening and will have a much better chance at breaking down the backline of Tacoma.

Player to Watch

Amando Moreno – After impressing during the Gold Cup, Moreno returns to a club that needs to turn its season around. His pace and ability to create space will be important against a Tacoma side that doesn’t give an inch at home. Creating space allows Moreno and those around him to create chances and potentially pull Defiance players out of position.

Sunday’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 2:30 p.m. (MST) from Cheney Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ for domestic viewers and YouTube for international viewers. The match can also be heard live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.

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Dodgers acquire Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in blockbuster deal with Nationals

With a 5-0 loss to the Giants on Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers are guaranteed to end the month of July in the same place they finished the months of May and June: In second place in the National League West behind their rival.

How did Andrew Friedman and the Dodgers front office respond to another series loss to the dreaded Giants? By trading a pair of top prospects to the Washington Nationals to acquire perennial All-Stars, Trea Turner and Max Scherzer.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Dodgers are sending pitcher Josiah Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz to the Nationals.

Scherzer, a 36-year old three-time Cy Young winner, is 7-4 on the season with a 2.83 ERA.

Turner is just 28 years old and is one of the best five-tool players in the league, with a .322 batting average and 21 stolen bases. He can play at shortstop, second base, or in the outfield, giving manager Dave Roberts another flexible tool like Chris Taylor and Max Muncy.

Both Turner and Scherzer are free agents after this season, with the former looking to cash in on his first lucrative multi-year free agent deal. Scherzer will also look to cash in, but he is not likely to get a long-term deal in his age-37 season.

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Aaron Rodgers reports to Packers training camp

Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers reported to Packers training camp this morning after a contentious offseason in which Rodgers reportedly demanded to be traded and rejected a lucrative contract extension. 

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers and Rodgers agreed to the following stipulations that led to Rodgers’ return to the team.

* The 2023 year in Rodgers’ contract — the last one in his current deal — would be voided, with no tags allowed in the future.

* The Packers would agree to review Rodgers’ situation at the end of this season.

* Rodgers’ contract would be adjusted with no loss of income to give the Packers more cap room now.

  • Mechanisms will be put in place to address Rodgers’ issues with the team.

The concessions by the Packers do not necessarily mean this is the final season in Green Bay for the future hall of fame quarterback, but it does open the door for Rodgers to possibly be traded after the 2021 season.

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10-man United earns draw with rival El Paso Locomotive FC

Saturday night’s match was as close to a must-win match for New Mexico United as it could be. Trailing El Paso Locomotive FC in the standings and with the visitors holding matches in hand, three points were desperately needed to help keep the gap between the two close.

As is customary in the series, the physical play started from the opening whistle and didn’t let up until the whistle blew to signal the end of the half. With play stopping and starting nearly two dozen times due to fouls, it was hard for either to gain momentum. Despite the disruptions, El Paso seemed to handle the flow of play better, and their pressing further prevented United from putting anything together.

For all the scoring that has happened in this series, the first half was largely a midfield battle. The efforts from the two sides resulted in a total of four shots being allowed between the two.

The play after halftime didn’t change much. The physicality continued, but there was an increase in the amount of flopping, particularly from El Paso. Going into halftime, United had conceded 16 fouls to El Paso’s 4. That trend also continued as the clock ran had eventually resulted in United being forced to play down a man for the second time at home. In the 65th, Juan Pablo Guzman was given a second yellow card, reported as a deliberate handball by the referee. From that point forward, United didn’t just sit back, but kept looking for a winner.

Neither side was good enough in the final third to find a goal on the night. The closest that United came to finding the net was after a  foul inside the attacking half. Off of the set piece, Josh Suggs fired towards goal in the 64th, but his shot was inches away and rebounded off the post.

United’s solid defensive effort throughout the match, and especially after going down a man, earned the club a hard-fought draw.

Player of the Match

Alex Tambakis – With two more saves and another clean sheet to his name, it was a bounceback performance for the Greek Freak. A solid performance should give him more confidence going forward.

Up Next

For their next match, United travels to Tacoma as they face Tacoma Defiance. The club has not faced Tacoma since the 2019 season, and in the two matches, United won the first 2-1, and the teams drew 1-1 in the second. The match is scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m. (MST) on Sunday, August 1.

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Rio Grande Rivalry returns to Albuquerque

The last time New Mexico United hosted the Rio Grande Rivalry, they won by a final of 3-0. That was back in 2019, though.

They’ve played seven times since then, and all of those meetings have been in El Paso. During that span, the six regular-season matches have been split as close to even as they can be, with United going 1-2-3 in those results. The more recent matches have played out more in favor of El Paso than United, but that’s a testament to the growth of both clubs.

This season El Paso was among the last clubs to lose a match, and if not for the stellar play of Rio Grande Valley, they would likely sit alone atop the Mountain Division.

Despite the season having not reached the halfway point yet, this is the third meeting of 2021 for the rivals. The last meeting between the two came down to the ninety-second period in which United made multiple mental errors that lead to two goals for the Locomotive. Dylan Mares benefitted both times and put a brace on the scoresheet that night. Up until that point, United had played solid defensively. Unfortunately, the high press from El Paso and turnovers in the defensive half gave them the opportunities they needed to score.

Player to Watch

Diego Luna – The 17-year-old made his professional debut earlier this season and has been like lightning in a bottle for El Paso. Through 11 appearances, the young star has three goals and has made a visible impact every time he has stepped on the pitch. His footwork was on display during the last match, and he was able to work his way into the box a few times.

After suffering their fourth straight road loss, United returns home where they currently carry a two-match win streak. The difference in their home and road form has been night and day, which has been surprising after how well they played on the road in 2020. At The Lab, United has scored ten goals and only allowed four, and never more than one in a match.

A win on Saturday night would go a long way to helping United in the Mountain Division standings. El Paso currently has three matches in hand on United, and handing them a loss would help decrease the possible deficit from those matches should El Paso pick up points from them. With the back half of the season around the corner, every point is crucial.

United’s midfield and the play of the centrebacks will be areas to watch for the club on Saturday. They have to find a way to stay at home on their assignments and not let players like Luna or Dylan Mares use their footwork to force them into bad decisions. They also have to remove the mental errors that were made during the last match. When United controls the midfield and minimizes the number of mental errors, they put themselves in a position to walk away with points.

Player to Watch

Cristian Nava – The first United academy player to make their professional debut, Nava has looked energetic every time he’s stepped on the pitch. The excitement and energy he brings are a spark for the rest of the club. With the club looking for someone to fill in for the injured Sam Hamilton, there’s a chance that Nava could get a start soon and against their rivals; it could be just what the club needs.

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

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United fall 3-0 to San Antonio, pick up fifth road loss

New Mexico United’s road woes continued in San Antonio on Wednesday as they suffered their fourth consecutive road defeat.

Heading into San Antonio, there was hope that the club would be able to turn around their road form and extend their current win streak to three matches. Unfortunately for them, they ran into a San Antonio side that is coming to form and getting over some of the injury issues that have plagued them.

One of the players coming into form is the Brazilian Nathan Fogaca. After scoring two goals in their prior match, he was someone that United needed to try and contain. Their efforts weren’t successful though, and Nathan broke through in the first half. Jose Gallegos and Nathan linked up for the first time in the 35th. Gallegos made a run to the byline and played the ball back across the box to Nathan, who was left unmarked and tapped the ball home for his first of the night.

The duo linked up again in the 63rd as Gallegos played a perfectly weighted through ball to Nathan. The Brazilian then played around United keeper Alex Tambakis who had come off of his line. Nathan went around to the left, and put the back in towards goal, and found the net for his second brace in two matches.

For much of the match, United was caught flat-footed, particularly in the defensive third. United was unable to match the pace of San Antonio and instead looked more prepared to match up against the size advantage usually given to the hosts. Although the attack looked better into the second half, United wasn’t able to muster any sort of response. Just when it seemed like they might be able to, San Antonio found another gear and put a third past Tambakis.

This time it was Gallegos who was credited with the goal. It was into stoppage time before he found it, but with a good effort, he got in behind before putting the ball into the bottom left corner to seal the win.

Player of the Match

Nathan Fogaca / Jose Gallegos – The duo was unstoppable for San Antonio on Wednesday night. The pair had the better of United throughout the night and were in sync with what each other wanted to do.

Up Next

United returns to play and back to The Lab on Saturday night. In their return home, the club takes on current Mountain Division leaders El Paso Locomotive FC. The match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MST).

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New Mexico United face San Antonio in mid-week clash

Coming off of two consecutive wins, New Mexico United looks to continue their good run of form on Wednesday night when they take on San Antonio FC for the second time this season. The first time these two clubs met this season, United posted a 2-0 victory in Albuquerque, but playing in San Antonio is a completely different atmosphere.

Going back to the 2019 season, United has played in San Antonio twice, losing in the regular season in 2019 by a final of 5-0 and winning 1-0 in the 2020 playoffs. San Antonio is a club that plays better at home historically, and this season they’re carrying a 2-1-3 record at Toyota Field this season. One of those home wins was an emphatic 3-0 win over surging Colorado Springs. Since that opening day win, San Antonio has struggled this year, but not due to a lack of talent. They’ve suffered a number of injuries, most notably to midfielder PC, and now starting striker Santiago Patino is out with a reported stress fracture.

PC did make his first appearance since May this past weekend during another win over Colorado Springs. With players getting healthy, San Antonio is a club that could make a run at the playoff positions during the second half of the season. One of the keys to that will be the play of Nathan, the Brazilian loanee. If he can maintain his current form, the San Antonio attack could be on the way to finding its way back.

Player to Watch

PC – Despite not having the size that many of the San Antonio players have, PC is a versatile player able to play both midfield and as a left-back. He’s a player that can disrupt attacks and limit the chances through the midfield.

United head into San Antonio looking to build on their two-match win streak, coming off of wins over Colorado Springs and Charleston Battery. With confidence building after the prior three-match losing streak and the previous win over San Antonio, there’s reason to think that Troy Lesesne and United have figured out their opponents. The last time out, United negated the size advantage of San Antonio by playing from distance and employing low, driven crosses. United has also made some changes in how they cover the wider areas of the pitch, as they showed against Battery and Switchbacks. This is also a positive change against San Antonio, who will look to play from the wide areas.

The club will be without Amando Moreno (international duty), Harry Swartz (lower body), and Brian Brown (lower body) on Wednesday night. Even though United will be without some major scoring threats, this club has shown that goals can come from anywhere. Through 13 matches the club has scored 19 goals from 12 different players. The production has also come from a number of different avenues, from free-kicks to open play which makes United even more dangerous.

Player to Watch

Devon Sandoval – Over the last few weeks, Devon has shown more confidence on the pitch and the players around him have figured out how he likes to get the ball. That has resulted in better play from the United veteran and earned him his first goal since the second week of the season. A confident Sandoval is tough for any club to deal with, and even when he doesn’t score, he earns the attention of defenders, opening up space for others on the team.

Wednesday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MST) from Toyota Field in San Antonio. The match will be broadcast nationally on ESPN 2. Locally, the match can be heard on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM App, or The TEAM website.

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Another win for United as they defeat Charleston Battery 2-1

Within four days New Mexico United played in two matches that resulted in the club picking up six points.

Those two matches also resulted in 18 yellow cards, 7 goals, 2 red cards, and United’s first win over an Eastern Conference opponent. The two results were exactly what United needed after suffering a three-match losing streak. While they weren’t the cleanest of matches, United showed determination, some much-needed physicality, and mental toughness.

With several players and coaching staff members facing off against their former club, Charleston Battery, the emotions of the night could have become too much. But Troy Lesesne and his men in black were ready for the challenge ahead of them. In the 15th, they were able to strike first and it came from an unlikely duo. After winning a corner, the ball was played away from the box, but the line held its place on the pitch. Juan Pablo Guzman took the corner and put a cross into the far post, something that he hasn’t been known for during his time in New Mexico. On the receiving end was Kalen Ryden, whose monster header fooled Charleston keeper, Joe Kuzminsky, and went into the left netting to take the lead, 1-0.

From there, the defense of United was on display. Charleston wanted to attack down the channels and spread the backline, but each time they did, United answered the call. Austin Yearwood and Rasheed Tetteh each made great defensive plays, preventing the visitors from generating chances.

Charleston’s first and only shot on target for the night came in the 38th. From outside the six-yard box, Dionysius Harmon was able to get off a cross to the far post where Claudio Repetto had gotten away from Tetteh. Repetto played the ball off of his chest and into the net behind Alex Tambakis to equalize.

From then, the match became considerably more chippy. The first yellow cards of the match were shown in the 43rd when Angelo Kelly fouled Juan Pablo Guzman and a scrum broke out on the pitch. Neither side went so far as to create a physical altercation, but the mood on the pitch shifted.

Just after the halftime break, Devon Sandoval got onto the scoresheet for the first time since the second week of the season. Making a run straight into the area, Dev looked to Sergio Rivas to deliver the ball. Rivas did and Dev’s attempt from short-range was blocked Kuzminsky, but he couldn’t control the ball. With no room between the two, Sandoval was able to continue his run of play and put the ball over the line for the 2-1 lead.

The remainder of the match was about keeping the pressure on and not conceding a second goal. United nearly gifted Charleston an opportunity in the 83rd, but Romario Piggott didn’t have the quality necessary to finish and put the ball well over the bar. After seeing out the final minutes of the match and the final whistle blew, the action on the pitch wasn’t finished. Charleston midfielder Burke Fahling was shown a red card after the final whistle blew and will face suspension for his actions.

Player of the Match

Kalen Ryden – After a poor performance on Friday night, Ryden turned things around and played spectacularly during the Monday night match. His stats for the night included six clearances, nine recoveries, two interceptions, and one goal.

Quotable

Devon Sandoval on recent attacking success: “I think we’ve been more dangerous the past five games. We’re starting to create more chances, and I think we’re starting to flow a little more, and I think you saw that tonight. We scored two goals, but we weren’t too far away from scoring three or four. So, we just need to keep grinding and keep pushing like that, and more goals will start falling for us.”

Troy Lesesne on the flow of the game: “You guys refer to me as calm all the time. You should ask these guys how calm I am. I said this last match when we got a great result against Colorado Springs: Emotions in the game are really important because it makes the game have a little bit more edge to it, but when we lose three matches in a row after going up, there’s a knee-jerk and emotional reaction, which is to say ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ And I think when you remove that emotion and you say ‘What exactly is happening?’ you’re able to get into the process that needs to take place in order to go in and get results. The same way that we have that critical eye when we lose matches and we try to remove emotion, honestly, I do the same thing after these two wins. The elation is great, and everything like that, but we quickly move on toward San Antonio. And I think that’s the way it has to be because you never want to get too high or too low.”

Up Next

After two matches in four days, United will get a nine-day break between matches. They will return to action on July 21 when they travel to take on San Antonio FC.

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United host Charleston Battery as they look for back to back wins

After winning in dramatic fashion on Friday night, New Mexico United is hoping to make it two in a row on Monday when they welcome Charleston Battery to The Lab. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because this will be the first time the two clubs have ever faced off against each other.

The Battery is one of the longest continuously running football clubs in the United States after being founded in 1993. In their time in existence, they have excelled at whatever level of football they have participated in and have developed a lot of talent within their program. United is tied to that talent with Troy Lesesne, Zach Prince, and Michael Azira, all having suited up for them in the past. It’s safe to say that without the Battery, United wouldn’t be where they are today.

This season though, the Battery has struggled to find consistency in their results. After the weekend results, they are sitting in seventh in the Atlantic Division on twelve points. However, due to scheduling issues and having matches rescheduled, they have as many as four matches in hand against some of their division opponents. Those matches could be more than enough to give them opportunities to work their way back into the playoff positions before the end of the regular season.

In their last match, Geobel Perez Oquendo took advantage of a ball that wasn’t secured by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds keeper to put the Battery up early. They weren’t able to pick up the three points, however, as they conceded late and earned only one against the second-place club within their division. They played that match in a formation that is very familiar to anyone that watches United. Battery manager Michael Anhaeuser put out a 352 formation against the Riverhounds. While they did concede most of the possession, they did have more shots and shots on target.

Player to Watch

Nicque Daley – The Jamaican international came to the Battery in 2019, having signed a four-year deal with the club. So far this season he’s scored twice in eight matches but has the ability to score more frequently than what has been shown so far. While he doesn’t have the pace of a Hadji Barry, he’s an intelligent footballer that can work himself into threatening areas.

United is coming off of a 3-1 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Friday night. After taking the match down to the wire, Azira and Ilija Ilic each scored in stoppage time to secure the three points. The mood was dampened somewhat by the loss of Sam Hamilton, who went down with an injury in the first half. Along with Sam, United will also be without Brian Brown and Harry Swartz, both of who have been ruled out due to injuries. Amando Moreno is also unavailable while he continues to play with the El Salvador nation team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

With the number of unavailable players rising, there’s an increased chance that more academy players get to see some first-team action. Cristian Nava was the first of those last weekend when he made his professional debut against the Switchbacks. It also could give an opportunity for Alex Touche to get meaningful minutes for the first time this season.

No matter who sees the pitch on Monday night, the key for United will be eliminating the mental mistakes. There were two costly errors against both El Paso and Switchbacks. If not for a fantastic save by Alex Tambakis, the scoreline could have looked different on Friday. Each of those errors came within the defensive half and gave scoring opportunities to the opposing sides. If those errors can be eliminated, United stands a good chance of picking up their second win in a row and another clean sheet.

Player to Watch

Josh Suggs – United’s team captain has adapted well to the role of wingback and has been instrumental in the success of the club so far this season. He’s a true threat going forward and is still one of United’s top defenders. He is second on the team in shots and is joint lead with Moreno for shots on target. With his leg he can score from anywhere on the pitch and his transition play has been outstanding.

The match on Monday night will be streamed live on ESPN+ with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (MDT). The match will also be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.

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United score twice in stoppage time to defeat Switchbacks 3-1

Lightning struck both around The Lab and inside it on Friday night. 

New Mexico United’s first match at home during monsoon season started with a weather delay due to lightning in the area and finished with lightning striking twice at the south end of the pitch. The weather delay didn’t diminish the importance of the match or the energy from the two sides. 

United was the first of the two sides to get a chance during the match, and it came as a result of a mistake from Switchbacks keeper Sean Melvin. In an attempt to stop an attack from United, Melvin came outside of the 18-yard box to run down the ball. If not for the offside flag going up against Brian Brown, the hosts looked to be through on goal. 

Ten minutes later, United won a free-kick inside the Switchbacks defensive half. Standing over it was the club captain, Josh Suggs, who delivered the ball across the pitch to the far post. Kalen Ryden got a foot to it, but his attempt was deflected by Melvin. The deflection didn’t go very far as it fell directly to Sergio Rivas, who found the back of the net in the 16th to give United the lead. 

Just past the half-hour mark, Ryden made an uncharacteristic error and gave the ball away in the defensive half of the pitch. The error benefitted the ever-dangerous Hadji Barry, who worked his way into the box and pulled the visitors level. 

If surrendering the lead once again wasn’t enough, on the scoring play United midfielder Sam Hamilton came up injured. In an attempt to tackle Barry, Hamilton went down on his left leg and, after receiving treatment from the trainer, was assisted off the pitch and into an ambulance for further tests. 

After making it to the break on level terms, the two sides restarted play with an increased feeling of tension. The physicality of the match started to catch up with them and the energy boiled over in the 53rd. Sebastian Anderson was shown a red card after taking down Daniel Bruce from the head and shoulder area, forcing the Switchbacks to play the rest of the way with only ten players. 

Despite the man advantage, United had a hard time finding the back of the net. Each attack from the hosts was met by a solid defensive effort from the Switchbacks or was thwarted by an inaccurate pass. 

To provide a spark in the attack, Troy Lesesne decided to send on Cristian Nava. In the 71st, the 17-year old Albuquerque native made his professional debut. He played well and made several moves that the more veteran players of the Switchbacks couldn’t track. 

With the clock ticking closer to the end of regulation, the head referee decided to add five minutes of stoppage time. It was here that lightning struck. Inside the first minute of stoppage, United won a corner at the south end of the park. Chelo Martinez stood over the ball and sent in a picture-perfect cross. Stepping out of the line and closer to the penalty spot, Michael Azira put a well-placed header into the bottom left corner to secure the lead with his first goal for the club. 

Minutes later, Ilija Ilic joined that club as well. Taking possession at the halfway line, United turned towards goal. Once again, Chelo was involved in the attack, this time playing a through ball ahead to Ilic. After working his way past the keeper, Ilic buried the ball into the net from a tight angle to bring the lead to 3-1. 

Player of the Match

Alex Tambakis – Alex once again showed why he was sought after in the off-season. Credited with another three saves by the league, Alex had another incredible performance and kept United from conceding on several occasions on Friday night. 

Quotable

Josh Suggs on tonight’s mentality: “I think on the night, the biggest thing that we talked about from El Paso to Switchbacks was having each other’s back. And I felt like tonight we had each other’s back in every situation. Whether it be fouls or sometimes when players were doing things after the plays. We had each other’s backs tonight. And that was all 90 minutes.”

Troy Lesesne on Sam Hamilton’s injury: “Right now we’re trying to determine exactly what the situation is for him. We don’t have anything definitive right now. But that’s definitely the most important question to ask, and the most important thing on our minds right now. We’re happy about the win, but everyone had the same thought process as you after the game, which is ‘How’s Sam doing?’ We’ll get it checked out. If it’s a break, obviously it may be a longer timeline for him. But we’re hoping it’s just a severe sprain of sorts. But no matter what, he’s going to come through it. He’s going to come through it strong. We got the three points tonight for him. There’s no doubt about that.”

Up Next

United returns to action on Monday night when they play host to Charleston Battery. Charleston, the former club of Lesesne and Azira, is making their first trip to Albuquerque. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT).

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Clayton Kershaw placed on 10-day IL with forearm inflammation 

The Dodgers placed starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the 10-day IL with left forearm inflammation on Wednesday. It is not known how severe the injury is to the veteran pitcher, who was initially scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Diamondbacks. 

It is possible that Kershaw could miss just one start and use the All-Star break to recover. It is also possible that he could need more time, as forearm inflammation on a pitching arm/elbow can linger.

The Dodgers are already down starter Trevor Bauer, who is not with the team as MLB continues to investigate allegations of sexual assault.

According to Juan Toribio of MLB.com, David Price will likely handle “the bulk innings in Kershaw’s absence.”

The Dodgers may also call up right-handed prospects Josiah Gray or Ryan Pepiot from the minor leagues to eat some innings. 

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United squander first-half lead, finish road trip winless

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.

Up Next

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).

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United look to end slump against rival El Paso

For the 2020 Road Warriors, the first extended road trip of the season hasn’t gone to plan. Twice in two matches, New Mexico United has failed to hold onto first-half leads, allowing both Colorado Springs and Real Monarchs to come from behind and win.

Their opponent on Saturday night is arguably the toughest of the three. Once again facing their rivals, El Paso Locomotive FC, United knows that they have their work cut out for them. This series has historically been one of the most hard-fought for both clubs, and with both coming off of losses in their last match, this weekend could be a big moment for both of them. The last time these two clubs met, United looked to have the win in hand until a stoppage-time goal from Leandro Carrijo stole points for Locomotive.

One of the high points for El Paso has been their defensive play. Their defense has put together several strong showings so far this year, which has allowed their opponents to only score six goals. It could be fair to say that even with veterans like Logan Ketterer and Ben Beaury on their roster, there may be a keeper battle brewing. While Ketterer was on loan with the Portland Timbers, Adrian Zendejas was given a chance to start and put together three clean sheets. No matter who has been minding the net, though, they’ve been tough to score on.

Player to Watch

Leandro Carrijo – An ageless wonder on the pitch, Carrijo continues to contribute every time he enters a match. A constant threat in the final third, he will cause require constant attention from United’s defensive players.

This road trip is one that many expected United to walk away with at least seven points from the three matches. It hasn’t worked out for them that way, and it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the issue is. Against Colorado Springs, they were outrun for much of the match, particularly in the defensive third. Against Real Monarchs long, difficult shots were the undoing of the club.

These are things that can be fixed. Against the Locomotive, it will be tough.

Part of what makes it tough is the absence of Brian Brown and Amando Moreno. The two forwards are currently representing the Reggae Boyz and La Selecta, respectively, in the Gold Cup. Without the two of them, the striker duties fall to only Devon Sandoval and Iliya Ilic. The two have not been great in the final third, and Ilic is still looking for his first goal with the club.

For United to get back on track, they need to control the middle of the pitch. If they can do that, they then need to convert that control into chances in the final third. Chance creation needs to be more spread out and not just from the wings. Playing through the middle could open up spaces for Sandoval and Ilic between the backline.

Player to Watch

Andrew Tinari – Tinari has been impressive over the last few matches with his box-to-box play. He’s been able to keep his tenacity in check and has played well going both ways. If he continues this trend, he could potentially pick up another goal or assist and become an additional threat in the final third.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT) from Southwest University Park. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ domestically and on YouTube for international viewers. Locally, the match can be heard live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, or The TEAM website.

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Trevor Bauer placed on administrative leave by MLB

Major League Baseball announced today that Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer has been placed on 7-day administrative leave while the league investigates alleged sexual assault claims.

MLB’s investigation into the allegations made against Trevor Bauer is ongoing,” MLB said in a statement. “While no determination in the case has been made, we have made the decision to place Mr. Bauer on seven-day administrative leave effective immediately.”

According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, Brusdar Graterol will take Trevor Bauer’s spot on the Dodgers’ roster. Graterol was already in Washington for the White House visit. He had been with triple-A Oklahoma City.

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United fail to hold onto two-goal lead, fall to Real Monarchs 3-2

For the second time in two matches, New Mexico United surrendered a first-half lead and was unable to find their back into even a single point. Wednesday night’s match was arguably the worse of the two results since it came against the bottom team in the Mountain Division, Real Monarchs.

The night started off well enough for United as they looked energetic and as though they had forgotten about Colorado Springs. That confidence and extra effort paid off for the visitors in the 15th. Daniel Bruce, who is becoming known for his wonder-goals, laced a shot from 30 yards out and was able to shake the net.

Ten minutes later, the lead was extended to two. This time it was Andrew Tinari going to the right side of the box and worked himself into space. Taking the ball onto his left foot, he curled the ball inside the far post and out of reach of the Monarchs keeper. After earning a two-goal lead inside of thirty minutes, the match looked well in hand for United.

Douglas Martinez and the hosts had other plans, however.

Justin Portillo pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 38th. His strike from distance made its way into the bottom corner of the net after Philip Beigl was unable to secure it.

The score would remain in the favor of United until the 54th. Douglas Martinez was open in space on the right side of the box and took enough attention away from the middle of the area to allow Aris Briggs to get inside. Briggs was able to finish from close range and pull level.

Real wasn’t satisfied with just one point. They continued to play aggressively throughout the second half and found a third goal in the 65th. This time it was from Noah Powder, one of their defenders. Once again, an attempt from distance got past Beigl. Powder’s shot took a looping slice towards the far post and struck off the inside of the bar giving the Monarchs the lead, 3-2.

Player of the Match

Douglas Martinez – The Monarchs forward was dangerous all night long and put himself and his teammates in position repeatedly to get inside the box. Although he didn’t score, he did manage an assist and took a lot of attention away from other areas of the pitch.

Up Next

United returns to action on Saturday when they take on El Paso Locomotive FC. That match will take place at Southwest University Park and is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (MDT).

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Road trip continues for United in Herriman

After a disappointing start to their three-match road trip, New Mexico United hopes to turn their fortunes around on the tour’s second stop. Instead of taking advantage of a loss by Rio Grande Valley FC, United fell to the surging Switchbacks and slid to fourth in the Mountain Division.

Their next opponents, Real Monarchs SLC, haven’t been able to find any sort of consistency in the 2021 campaign. They’ve struggled out of the gate and have managed to one win in ten matches played. During that time, they’re averaging less than one goal per match while surrendering 13. It also plays into United’s favor that the history between the two clubs heavily favors them.

Their last time out, the Monarchs managed to get a draw against a more talented San Antonio squad after Justin Dhillion found the back of the net in the 77th. This is still a young club, and being an MLS II club, their focus is on the development of players. Their use of four different keepers helps support this point. Developing players doesn’t mean that they aren’t trying to win; they just put their time and energy into helping players get to the next level.

To help with that development, they were able to secure the loan of veteran Douglas Martinez. Martinez has played with the Monarchs in the past and was instrumental in some of their prior successes. Martinez brings leadership and is a proven goal-scoring threat.

Player to Watch

Charles Wehan – The name should sound familiar to United faithful. Wehan is the younger brother of former United standout Chris Wehan. Charlie is one of the newer signings for the Monarchs who brought him in to be another attacking threat. He last played for Stanford University, where they won the PAC-12 Championship three times.

For the men in yellow, it’s a quick turnaround, and they have to put their performance in Colorado Springs out of their minds. After surrendering a first-half lead, United needs to come out strong on Wednesday night.

Perhaps the most shocking part of the loss was the performance of the defense. This is a side that had only allowed five goals through eight matches. Yet, Hadji Barry and the Switchbacks were able to put three goals in against them. United was unable to match the pace that was on display. Against the Monarchs, however, this won’t be as much of a concern.

Still, there has to be a much better performance to keep the Monarchs out of the goal.

Things have to be better in the offensive third as well. They have to find a way to get the forwards in threatening positions more frequently. United has done well playing the ball in from the wings, but they also need to play through the middle. If they can’t, then clubs will start sitting on the cross and waiting for it.

Player to Watch

Brian Brown – Brown has struggled to get involved, and his frustration showed in the match against Colorado. Several times he was able to make runs that looked promising, but the service he needed never came. With more appearances, he appears to be fitting into the system and making better decisions.

Wednesday’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 8:00 p.m. (MDT) from Zions Bank Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ domestically and on YouTube for international viewers. Locally the match will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.

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United falls to Switchbacks FC 3-1 to open road trip

From the opening minute in Colorado Springs, the atmosphere was electric. Lightning strikes in the area sent the match into a weather delay just 85 seconds into the match. Once play resumed lightning continued to strike on the pitch.

In the second minute, United restarted play with a brilliant delivery on a free-kick from Harry Swartz. The ball flew across the box and was put on frame by Kalen Ryden. Between the ball and the goal, however, stood keeper Sean Melvin who prevented United from grabbing the early lead.

Both clubs were willing to show their physicality as they pushed the pace of play. United had the better of the early opportunities but wasn’t able to make anything from them until the 19th minute. After Colorado conceded a corner, Andrew Tinari stood over the ball and a perfect decoy run by Juan Pablo Guzman left Josh Suggs alone at the top of the box. Suggs took the low delivery on his left foot and put a laser into the net that left Melvin flat-footed.

Even with the deficit, Colorado Springs continued to push and show that they weren’t the team of years past. Hadji Barry and Michee Ngalina made multiple runs and were able to link up several times throughout the remainder of the half and after the break. In the 59th Ngalina made his way behind the United defenders, somehow staying onside, and put in a low cross that Deshane Beckford was able to put away for the equalizer.

That wasn’t the last of the Barry/Ngalina show as the two continued to put on a display of pace that United couldn’t keep up with. Ten minutes later, Barry squeezed his way between Ryden and Sam Hamilton to get on the end of a cross from Sebastian Anderson. He was able to get just enough on it to put it into the lower-left corner to take the lead. Barry would go on to add a second goal in the 82nd. Once again he flashed his pace on a break and was played in by Andre Lewis. Ryden attempted to keep pace, but couldn’t get ahead of the Switchbacks forward. Barry would go back across goal with his shot and Tambakis was unable to stop it, giving Colorado Springs a 3-1 lead.

Player of the Match

Hadji Barry – Barry was highlighted ahead of the match as a player to watch and he came through in spades for the hosts. The brace extended his goal-scoring streak and lead in the Golden Boot race. His pace was unmatched and paired with Ngalina, the Switchbacks have a dangerous set of forwards.

Up Next

United returns to action on Wednesday night for the second match of their road trip. Their opponent is the struggling Real Monarchs, who sit at the bottom of the Mountain Division. That match is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. (MDT).

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New Mexico United look to end Switchbacks’ unbeaten run

For the majority of the USL Championship clubs, they’ve now completed a quarter of their season. To this point in the season, there have been some standout performances and some highlight moments. New Mexico United and Colorado Springs Switchbacks had two such moments during their first meeting on May 21.

That match was bookended with two stellar goals. The first was from Switchbacks forward Hadji Barry, who found the back of the net just 63 seconds into the match. The latter came by way of Daniel Bruce, who put his laces through the ball when he put it into the top right corner to seal the win.

Despite the result that night, the Switchbacks showed that they are not the club of years past. They finally have a scoring threat and the talent to support him. Barry currently sits on top of the league with 8 goals to his name. His ability to get in behind defenders has been instrumental in many of his goal-scoring opportunities. Behind him, Michee Ngalina has also had a standout season so far. The two have developed a partnership that is paying off every time they head onto the pitch.

Colorado Springs’ issues lie in the defensive third. Through seven matches, they have allowed 12 goals and multiple goals in three of them. They are allowing their opponents too many opportunities to get clean looks at the goal, and that has prevented them from potentially sitting higher in the Mountain Division than they do currently.

Player to Watch

Hadji Barry – Barry impressed in his appearances against United in the preseason and the first regular-season meeting. He pushed the pace of United’s defenders and was able to get the better of them in each match.

United come into the match on an unbeaten streak of their own. With two wins and a draw in their last three matches, United has momentum on their side after recovering from the shocking loss to Loudoun United. Now, they head into a venue, and a state, where they’ve had plenty of success in the past. The history between the two clubs swings heavily in favor of United and could easily continue Friday night.

For that to happen, United has to continue their dominance in the defensive third. After three consecutive clean sheets, the defense appears to be exactly where Troy Lesesne wants them to be. They’re making smart decisions, they aren’t allowing opponents clear opportunities, and the man between the sticks is playing out of his mind. The key to what they need to do on Friday night is to keep track of Barry. He was given too many chances in the first meeting to use his pace and get in behind the back three.

Player to Watch

Andrew Tinari – Tiniar was sent off during the first match this season and didn’t get to show what he could really do. With him on the pitch, United has better control of the midfield, and if the match against San Antonio is an indication of what he can do going forward, United has another chance creator.

Friday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m.(MDT) from Weidner Field. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ domestically and on YouTube for international viewers. Locally, the match can be heard live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM via The TEAM app and website.

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United moves into second after convincing 2-0 win over San Antonio

If there were any ill-effects from having to play on short notice, New Mexico United didn’t show it on Wednesday night. They picked up right where they left off against Austin Bold and dominated possession once again.

The difference between Saturday and Wednesday was that United was able to finish against a compact backline from San Antonio FC. While they weren’t lined up in a traditional defensive formation, their gameplan saw their midfielders dropping deep to pack the box. For a time, that strategy kept United out of the back of the net, but it didn’t stop them from dictating the pace of the match.

Much like the prior match, United found themselves with plenty of time to move the ball around, only this time they were asking questions of the defense and San Antonio keeper Matt Cardone from the opening whistle. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Captain Josh Suggs finally broke through for the home side.

In the 33rd, Suggs made his way into the six-yard box and received a pass from Andrew Tinari. Somehow, Suggs remained onside and put a low, driven shot into the bottom left corner to give United the lead. The goal was the first for United since the match against Real Monarchs on June 4th. 

Coming out of the second half, United still played like they were on fresh legs and continued to control the pace of play. Their persistent questioning of the San Antonio defense paid off once again in the 52nd. 

This time it was Austin Yearwood who made his mark. Taking the ball on the left flank, he feigned to the left, put Sam Gleadle on the wrong foot, and then went back to the right. From outside the box, Yearwood left fly with a curler that found its way into the far side netting to extend the lead to 2-0. 

From there, it was just a matter of continuing to control the match and keep the visitors from getting any level of comfort on the pitch. As they made their substitutions, bringing on forwards Nathan and Shandon Hopeau in hopes of pulling even a single goal back, United answered in kind. To counter the fresh legs up top for San Antonio, Troy Lesesne sent in Justin Schmidt and Sam Hamilton to put fresh legs in the defensive third. Lesesne’s decisions were just what the club needed, and along with some great stops by Alex Tambakis, United rode their two-goal lead to a third consecutive clean sheet. 

Player of the Match

Austin Yearwood – Austin played well at both ends of the pitch against a bigger, more physical side in San Antonio. His stat line says it all; 9 duels won, 3 clearances, 2 interceptions, 1 tackle, and 1 goal. 

Next Up

New Mexico United doesn’t step foot on the pitch again until Friday, June 25th. When they do return to play, it will be against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Weidner Field. The two clubs previously met on May 21, also at Weidner Field, when United walked away with a 3-1 win. 

 

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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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United plays to goalless draw in front of sellout crowd

New Mexico United has made it a point to make Pride Night a point of emphasis for the club and the community. The last time they were able to host a match for this occasion was on June 5, 2019, against Oklahoma City Energy FC. That match was played in front of 13,574 fans on a Wednesday night. Tonight’s match may have only been played in front of 9,288, but the voices of the New Mexicans in attendance sounded much louder.

Much like their last match against Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Bold came out in a very defensive formation. This time they employed a 532 instead of the 451. With the change of formation, Bold was more than willing to sit back and give United room to play across the pitch. There was very little pressure applied to the men in black until they reached the box. 

Chances for either side were few and far between, and Bold were the only ones to put shots on target. United found themselves stymied by how compact Austin was playing inside the box. Despite looking like the better side, they just couldn’t find a way through.

The hosts started the second half in another gear. Whatever had been said by Head Coach Troy Lesesne set United on a tear. They started pressing deep in the Bold defensive half and played their way into threatening positions early into the half. Austin’s defenders continued to occupy a space no wider than the goal for much of the early action. 

If it wasn’t clear what Bold hoped to do in this match, there was no doubt of it the later clock ran. Content to sit back and hope to play on the counter, it was on United to find the breakthrough, but they were never able to. 

In the defensive third United was more than up to the task of controlling the Austin attack, the little that was there. For two straight matches, Bold finished the match with less than 30% possession and has not had an attacker score since Sean Okoli converted a penalty on May 26. 

Man of the Match

Alex Tambakis – Though he had little to do on the night, when forced into action, he was a wall once again and earned his second clean sheet of the season. Tambakis is showing why he was a coveted talent. 

Stat of the Match

11 Shots – 0 Shots on Target for New Mexico United

Up Next

New Mexico United returns to action on Wednesday, June 16, for the finale of the two-match homestand. That match will see United play host to San Antonio FC in a rematch from the 2020 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Wednesday night’s kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (MDT) from The Lab. 

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Pride Night sees United play host to Austin Bold FC

The 2021 schedule has given New Mexico United supporters plenty of matches to look forward to. Every match will present a new challenge, even once the rematches start. United gets their first taste of those this weekend as Austin Bold FC returns to the Lab for their second and final visit of the season. 

Austin’s first trip to Albuquerque didn’t go well for the visitors as they found themselves on the wrong side of a 3-1 scoreline. Aside from a momentary lapse by United, Bold FC struggled to find their footing. Since that match, Austin has picked up seven points from four matches. 

Even with the improved form, this Bold side still has a lot to figure out. Through five matches, they’ve put out four different formations and scored four goals. Only one of which has come from a player listed as an attacker. While they haven’t established an identity in the attacking half of the pitch, the one thing they do well is defend. 

Their performance against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was a perfect example of that. Playing out of a 451, Austin rarely had more than a single player out ahead of the ball, instead opting to play nine behind it and try to counter-attack. The stats bore out what they wanted to do, conceding 75% possession while only allowing one shot on target. Their game plan worked as they ground out a 1-0 win.

Player to Watch

Gustavo Rissi – The young Brazilian has made quite an impact since joining Austin Bold FC. Coming in on loan from Cruzeiro, Rissi has become a solid defender and often finds himself in exactly the right spot to end attacking threats.

New Mexico United is also coming off of a win in their last match, a 1-0 result over Real Monarchs. The lone goal that night came off of an attempt from nearly 30 yards out by Isidro Martinez. It was the perfect way to cap off a match that saw United dominate possession and play in a much more controlled manner. 

Despite their build-up play, they only generated five shots and two on target. While Troy Lesesne will be happy with the control, the quality of play in the final third left a lot to be desired. In the past, Lesesne has stated that the club needed to learn how to win the one-goal games, and they did just that in Herriman. They gritted out a tough win and withstood a late flurry to earn the three points.

Against Austin Bold, United will have to keep their foot down and be more creative in the attacking half. Once again, that is going to need to come from the midfield. They will have to create space and chances against a Bold side that will most likely play defensive for most of the match. 

Player to Watch

Amando Moreno – One of the more creative players to come out of United’s midfield, Moreno has to be a spark for the team. He doesn’t necessarily have to score to have a good night, but he will have an immeasurable impact on the outcome by being a presence on the pitch.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (MDT) kickoff from The Lab. For those not in attendance, the match can be streamed domestically on ESPN+. The match will also be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and website. 

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Late goal from Chelo earns 3 points for United

The only thing that started fast in Harriman was the artificial turf. The play on the pitch, however, was anything but. 

New Mexico United came out with a slow, methodical approach to the match and controlled possession throughout the half. Much of that possession came in their own half, however, as they were trying to find an opening in the Real Monarchs back four.

Between the two clubs, only a handful of chances were created. The closest either came to scoring was a shot by Monarchs defender Daniel Flores. Flores found himself unmarked inside the box and put a left-footed shot on frame, but it was saved by United keeper Alex Tambakis.

At halftime, the weather shifted at Zions Bank Stadium, and so did United’s mentality. Their intensity shifted into a higher gear, and they began to put more pressure on the Monarchs back line. With that increased pressure their control of the match increased as well. 

United gave the Monarchs some undeserved chances around the 60th-minute mark with some slipshod passing. Multiple times, United was caught unable to control or clear the ball out of their defensive half and the Monarchs had chances to look at the goal. Fortunately for United, the hosts were unable to take advantage of any of the miscues. 

It took until the 82nd minute before the scoreless match was finally broken. After Harry Swartz drew a foul around 30 yards out, Chelo Martinez stood over the ball as United lined up at the 18-yard box. Chelo sent an arcing ball into the box, but it was sent too far for anyone except for the netting to touch it, allowing United to take the lead. 

United was able to hang on and fend off the hosts’ attacks for the final minutes of regulation to pick up another win on the road.

Man of the Match

Andrew Tinari – Tinari’s bulldog nature on the pitch can get him into trouble, and he did pick up another yellow card tonight. But, that nature of his is a tremendous asset for United. Two tackles, one clearance, two interceptions, and being an all-around nuisance in the midfield help keep their attacking chances in check. 

Next Up

United returns home for Pride Night on Saturday, June 12th, when then will host Austin Bold FC once again. The last time the two clubs met was for United’s 2021 home opener, which United won by a final of 3-1. The match on the 12th is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. (MDT) kickoff from Isotopes Park. 

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Yearwood and Tinari both available as United face Real Monarchs

After a frustrating outing last Saturday night, New Mexico United looks to regain their form against Real Monarchs SLC. Historically this matchup has played out in favor of United, and Friday night may not be any different.

As an MLS 2 club, it came as no surprise that the roster for the Monarchs went through a drastic overhaul during the offseason. Over the past few seasons, the Monarchs have lost quality players such as Kalen Ryden, Maikel Chang, and Jack Blake. Despite being the last true champions of the USL, they floundered in the 2020 season, and 2021 is off to a slow start. With two points from four matches, this club has a lot yet to prove.

The Monarchs results this year have been a mixed bag to this point. They put up two goals against one of the stronger clubs in the division, San Antonio FC, but were held goalless by LA Galaxy II and Austin Bold FC. They’ve yet to find a consistent threat up top, and a defense anchored by the returning Noah Powder hasn’t been good enough.

Player to Watch

Bode Davis – The RSL academy product signed his first professional contract with the club in the fall of 2020 and has bagged one goal so far in the 2021 campaign. Davis could be a threat for the hosts on Friday night with a knack for finding space behind defenders.

United, meanwhile, is looking to find a way to get past the letdown from the match against Loudoun United. They will be without head coach Troy Lesesne but will have both Andrew Tinari and Austin Yearwood available for selection. Yearwood was given a straight red during the Loudoun match that was later rescinded by the independent review panel. Even without Lesesne on the touchline for Friday night’s contest, United will be in good hands with Zach Prince.

Even after going down a man in their last match, United’s attack was relentless, and if not for a missed handball, United would have walked away with at least a point. One of their biggest weapons on the night was the ability of Josh Suggs to get in behind the last defender. Pulling defenders away from the face of the goal gave Suggs opportunities to create chances. The club will need more of that when they go against an improving Monarchs defense.

Player to Watch

The Wingbacks – A lot of what United wants to do in their typical 352 formation comes from the play of the wingbacks. Whether it’s Harry Swartz, Daniel Bruce, or Josh Suggs, whoever plays out wide will be instrumental in how the match plays out. Creating space by moving the ball out wide and being able to swing it in will produce chances for United to find the net.

Friday night’s match against Real Monarchs is scheduled to kickoff at 8 p.m. (MDT) from Zion’s Bank Stadium. Listen live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, online at 1017theteam.com, and on the TEAM APP. Domestically the match can be streamed on ESPN+ and internationally on YouTube.

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Coach Birmingham rides off to the Sunset

An end to an era of Lobo Baseball took place on a sunny Saturday afternoon as hall of fame coach Ray Birmingham coached his final game for the cherry and silver.

Although the season proved to be a disappointment with the Lobos finishing with a 16-24 record, including an 11-10 loss in the final game of the season against visiting San Diego State, not one person in attendance cared as a packed house at Santa Ana Star Field said goodbye to the Cowboy coach one last time.

The Aztecs jumped out early with a two-run triple by first baseman Jacob Cruce in the top of the first inning. SDSU would add a pair of runs in each of the next two frames before breaking the game wide open with a four-run sixth inning to take what would turn out to be an insurmountable 8-4 lead.

As you would expect of a team playing for their beloved skipper one list time, the Lobos did not give up easily and fought to the end.

UNM stormed back with five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, capped off by an RBI triple by Harry Fullerton off of reliever Avery Jones.

The Lobos added another run in the bottom of the eighth to make it just a one-run game but could not come through with the needed run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, despite two runners on base in the final frame.

Coach B took the field one last time to thank the fans, his players, the university, and the state of New Mexico before donning a Cowboy hat and mounting a horse for a proper send-off for the Cowboy coach.

No other person did more for the state of New Mexico with regards to furthering the game of baseball and helping hundreds of young men become better baseball players, student-athletes, and members of our community.

Coach Birmingham will undoubtedly be missed, but his legacy will live on forever.

Below is a tribute to Coach B that was played at the conclusion of the game on Saturday.

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Early red card dooms United as they fall to Loudoun 0-1

After winning two matches on the bounce, New Mexico United came into the match tonight with every intention of making it three in a row. Standing in their way was the club’s first Eastern Conference foe, Loudoun United FC, and former United player Sammy Sergi. 

The fast start that has become synonymous with New Mexico United was nowhere to be seen in this match. Loudoun controlled the majority of the possession for the early stages of the match, with United sitting back absorbing the pressure. 

Through the Magic Minute, neither side put a real threat on the opposing goalkeeper. There were few chances to be had by either side, but in the 23rd, things changed drastically. As Loudoun played the ball over the top looking for Amoustapha, it became a footrace between the Loudoun forward and Austin Yearwood to see who would get to it first. 

Amoustapha appeared to have a half-step on Yearwood when he mysteriously fell just outside of the box. The fall drew the attention of the center referee, who showed a straight red card to Yearwood for an apparent DOGSO (denial of goal scoring opportunity). In response to the red, Troy Lesesne subbed on Devon Sandoval to bring on the more defensive Harry Swartz. 

Even with the sub, Loudoun was able to strike in the 40th. Amoustapha played the ball over to Jovanny Bolivar, who was waiting at the top of the box. Bolivar’s strike from distance would find the top right corner of the net to put the visitors ahead 0-1. 

Coming out of halftime, United looked dangerous despite being a man down. Time and again, Josh Suggs was able to find space down the left wing as he sliced his way through Loudoun defenders. Suggs’ constant pressure nearly paid off in the 69th. He appeared to play Ilija Ilic in who headed the ball into the back of the net, but it was ruled offside. 

Throughout the second half, the number of Loudoun United players that found their way to the pitch was an astounding display of time-wasting. The result of the time Loudoun spent on the ground was ten minutes of stoppage time. New Mexico had numerous opportunities to get into the box but just couldn’t find the final touch they needed to equalize.

Player of the Match

Josh Suggs – Though he may not be credited with official chances created on the USL website, Josh’s repeated runs down the left side opened up areas for United’s forwards to get into the box and try to be dangerous in front of goal. 

Next Up

United will try to rebound from the loss to Loudoun United next weekend as they are once again on the road. This time the club will face Real Monarchs SLC on Friday, June 4. That match is scheduled to kick off at 8:00 pm (MDT).

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New Mexico United play host to Loudoun United FC

New Mexico United will once again make club history this weekend when they play host to Loudoun United FC. The match against the visitors from Leesburg, Virginia, marks the first time that United has ever played against a club from the Eastern Conference. 

Although the opponent may be unfamiliar, they do share one thing in common with United; they both entered the USL Championship during the 2019 season. Beyond that, and both having signed Sammy Sergi, there isn’t much else in common. 

The DC United affiliated Loudoun comes into the weekend having lost their first two matches of the season. Both losses were by a final score of 2-1, and in both, Loudoun fell behind early. Against any club in the USL, falling behind early is a dangerous proposition. But for Loudoun, they haven’t quite figured out how to respond. 

While they haven’t been firing on all cylinders, Loudoun isn’t without talented players. Midfielders Darluis Paz and Kairou Amoustapha have shown moments of flair during the first few weeks. Amoustapha is a player similar to Hadji Barry, and he has pace to spare. Barry caused issues for United’s back three, and Amoustapha could do the same.

Player to Watch

Sammy Sergi – after notching his first goal for Loudoun in his last match, Sammy seems to be back at full strength after missing nearly all of the 2020 campaign. Sammy has good vision and a strong leg. Whether he plays in the midfield or higher up, he can cause issues for United. 

United enters the weekend on a two-match win streak after beating Colorado Spring Switchbacks FC last weekend. Not only did the club have to come from behind, but they also picked up the win with only ten players on the pitch. After winning two matches on the bounce, United currently sits two points behind division leaders Rio Grande Valley FC.

While United’s attackers have started to find a groove, the true heroes of the season so far have been the back three. Austin Yearwood has been having himself a season and is imposing his will across the pitch. Strong performances from all of the defenders will limit the number of clean looks that Loudoun will get.

At the other end of the pitch, if United can be effective with their press, it stands to reason that the visitors will tire early on. Clubs that have little to no experience with the altitude change could find themselves struggling to keep up with the athleticism of United the later it gets.

Player to Watch

Austin Yearwood – It’s been a tremendous year for Austin so far. A back three system requires the players to play more narrow, but Austin has adapted well to the system and is flourishing. 

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm (MDT) from The Lab. The match can be seen domestically on ESPN+ and YouTube for international viewers. The match can also be heard locally on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM.

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Fullerton drives in four as Lobos sweep San José State 

Harry Fullerton notched three hits and drove in four runs to lead the University of New Mexico Lobos to an 8-4 victory on Sunday and a three-game series sweep over the host San José State Spartans.

The win on Sunday secured a second-consecutive series sweep for the Lobos as the regular season winds down in what will be the final campaign in the storied coaching career for head coach Ray Birmingham.

New Mexico won the first game of the series on 6-2 on Saturday, with Connor Mang and Kyler Castillo each driving in three runs and Nathaniel Garely scattering just five hits over five innings to earn the win.

Game two of the doubleheader turned out to be an offensive barrage for the Lobos in a lopsided 14-2 win. Adam Schneider led the Lobos with three hits in five at-bats, Kyler Castillo scored a team-high three runs, and Fullerton drove in four runs, including a home run in the seventh inning off of Spartan receiver Kyle Bratset.

Fullerton carried over his hot play into the final game of the series on Sunday. His second-inning single to drive in Connor Mang extended UNM’s lead to 2-0. After flying out to right in his next at-bat, Fullerton would come through with a two-run double that proved to be the hit of the game.

The Spartans posted three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a one-run lead. Instead of allowing Corey Sanchez to post a shutdown inning in the top of the sixth, Fullerton and the Lobos posted their own three-spot to regain the lead. 

UNM would add an insurance run in both the eighth and ninth inning, but the Spartans would not score another run on the day.

With the win, the Lobos move to 15-23 on the year, and 9-15 in Mountain West Conference play. 

They wrap up the season at home against San Diego State in a double-header on Saturday, May 28th.

Be sure to catch all of the exciting action as the Lobos look to continue winning out in Birmingham’s final home series. Listen live on-air, online at www.1017theteam.com, and on the TEAM app. 

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10-man United hold off Switchbacks FC, win 3-1

New Mexico United (2-1-1) hoped that they would get off to a fast start went out the window in a hurry. A frenetic start from both clubs allowed Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to take an early lead. 

Switchbacks striker Hadji Barry was played in behind the United defenders down the left side by Austin Dewing as the game clock passed the one-minute mark. Barry’s pace was no match for Sam Hamilton, and from just outside the six-yard box, his right-footed shot found its way into the bottom right corner of the goal. 

Trailing less than ninety seconds into the match, United had ground to make up. With the frenetic pace continuing, Sergio Rivas found his moment in the eighth minute. A Harry Swartz cross looked dangerous as it flew into the box but was headed down by a Switchbacks defender. Instead of clearing it, the ball fell to Rivas, who put a curling, right-footed shot past the keeper to pull level.

Play continued end to end for the remainder of the half, with neither side able to find another goal.

As fast as the Switchbacks started in the first half, United returned the favor in the second. In the 49th Brian Brown and Amando Moreno linked up deep inside the area. Taking the ball nearly to the left byline, Brown was able to make a turn and play a low cross to Moreno. Moreno was left inside the six-yard box with a tap-in to give United their first lead of the night, 1-2.

The excitement from taking the lead wouldn’t last long.

In the 54th, Andrew Tinari was given his second yellow of the night for a hard foul on Torres. Tinari was sent off with the second yellow, forcing United to play with 10 men for the rest of the match. 

Now playing down a man, United played with everyone behind the ball for most of the second half. Time after time, Colorado Springs came at them but they couldn’t find another goal. United, though, did manage to add a third. 

In the final minute of stoppage time, the Switchbacks were caught out of position, allowing Daniel Bruce to break behind the defensive line. With no one between him and the goal, Bruce sprinted to the box and sent a rocket into the upper ninety, putting the match out of reach.

Man of the Match

Alex Tambakis – After the early concession, Tambakis turned things around and made several great saves to ensure the win for United. Once the club went down to 10-men his job got even harder. Alex’s command at the back and field awareness for major factors in the outcome of the match.

Up Next

New Mexico United will return home to prepare for their next match against Loudoun United FC. That match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 pm (MDT) on Saturday, May 29.

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New Mexico United set to face Switchbacks at new Weidner Field

Only days after experiencing their first home match since 2019, New Mexico United (1-1-1) is once again on the road. The destination this week is the brand new Weidner Field, home of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1-1-0).

The Friday night match will be the first for the Switchbacks in the $42 million dollar facility. With a capacity of 8,000, the stadium is an impressive venue. It remains to be seen how much of a factor the capacity itself will play in the outcome of matches, but having a field to call their own in downtown Colorado Springs will certainly boost their confidence.

Colorado Springs will also be buoyed by their recent win over Sporting Kansas City II. Last Friday night, the Switchbacks went into Children’s Mercy Park and hung a four-spot on their hosts. While the performance on the pitch was one of the better ones in recent memory, being awarded two penalties didn’t hurt their cause. Newcomer Hadji Barry claimed two of the goals to open his account with the club. 

In the later stages of the 2020 season, the Switchbacks showed signs of improvement and even picked up a win over United. Now, with a largely retooled roster and a new head coach, Switchbacks supporters have a lot to look forward to. 

Player to Watch

Hadji Barry – Barry is a name that will be familiar to any United supporter that followed the preseason match between the two clubs. Barry is a dangerous striker that has the ability to get past defenders. With the ability to get himself into space, Barry is a true scoring threat.

The state of Colorado was essentially home away from home for United throughout the 2020 season. After playing the Switchbacks four times, United earned themselves a record of 2-1-1 en route to making the playoffs once again. With positive results under their belts from 2020, and their first win of the new campaign, Troy Lesesne’s men should be in good spirits. 

Last week United showed some of their depth, with three goals coming from three different players. Sergio Rivas, Amando Moreno, and Brian Brown all found the back of the net after United was able to break the press from Austin. The movement from United also showed improvement over the first two matches and created lots of space for the black and yellow to work in. 

In the preseason match between the two sides, United had a lot of success playing out of the back with the wingbacks. That movement allowed the strikers to get into dangerous positions and led to a 4-2 win for United. 

Player to Watch

Brian Brown – After opening his account against Austin, Brown said that he needed more goals. Against Colorado Springs, he’ll have opportunities to add to his tally. Look for Brown to play in a role similar to that of Devon Sandoval and put either himself or others in a position to score.

Friday night’s match is scheduled to kick off at 7:00 pm (MDT) from Weidner Field. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, online at 1017theteam.com, and on the TEAM App. You can also watch the game live on ESPN+ for domestic viewers and on YouTube for international viewers.

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United dominant in 3-1 win in home opener

It took 574 days of playing away from home for New Mexico United to be able to play on their own pitch. In true United fashion, the prematch ceremonies were handled by local legends. Chevel Sheperd gave a tremendous rendition of the national anthem, Lobo Women’s soccer coach Heather Dyche delivered the official game ball, and the boss himself, Peter Trevisani, gave the ceremonial kick. It was a start true to who this club is. 

As play got underway, neither side was able to gain an early advantage. Both clubs found themselves with a chance prior to the twelfth minute. Austin Bold FC’s came off of an early corner. United’s, meanwhile, came off of a cross from Sergio Rivas that Josh Suggs wasn’t able to find the target.  The press from the home side was able to create a few turnovers and prevent the Bold from gaining any momentum. 

Just before the magic minute, homegrown talent Sergio Rivas struck paydirt. With a stretch of possession that saw the ball touched by six different United players, it was Rivas that broke open the scoring. After receiving a pass just past the center-circle, Rivas played it out wide to Swartz on the right-wing. Raising his head, Swartz saw multiple United players making runs into the Austin box. His cross was picture perfect, allowing Rivas to head the ball past Hugo Fauroux. 

In the 27th, United looked poised to double their lead. Amando Moreno found space down the left channel, opening up a chance for Andrew Tinari to deliver the ball over the top. As Moreno entered the final third, ball at his feet, Fauroux came well off his line and took down the forward, receiving a yellow card for his efforts. The ensuing set-piece was taken by Rivas, whose strike was barely tipped over the bar.

United had no changes to begin the second half, but Austin had one that paid off immediately. Defender Nick Hinds came on in place of Collin Fernandez, and in under a minute, the visitors equalized. Juan Pablo Torres laid the ball off to Hinds just outside the left corner of the box, and his shot somehow got through United defenders and into the bottom right corner to pull level. 

The following run of play saw United attempt to answer with a goal of their own. In the 48th, Kalen Ryden sent a ball nearly the length of the pitch for Moreno. After bringing the ball down, Moreno tried to play the ball past Fauroux, with what was either a shot or a pass attempt, but the Austin keeper was able to stop the play from developing further. 

Ryden’s leg created another chance in the 61st once again going over the top. Looking for Suggs down the left side, Ryden’s pass was deflected by Fauroux who came well off his line. Unable to control the ball, Fauroux’s deflection fell to Brian Brown. Brown put a perfectly weighted chip into the far right corner of the goal to retake the lead for United.

The lead would be extended to two goals minutes later. With a run down the left-wing, Tinari had an opportunity to play the ball in for Moreno. The cross from Tinari was placed where only Moreno could get to it, and for the second time on the night, United scored from a header, making the scoreline 3-1.

Despite their best efforts, Austin was unable to get any closer, and United was able to see out the end of the match to earn their first win of the season.

Man of the Match

Sergio Rivas – It was quite the homecoming for Sergio Rivas, who put on a show for the United supporters. One goal, three shots on target, two chances created, and a stellar 89.3% passing accuracy. Rivas made an impact at both ends of the pitch on a night when United needed their midfield to make a difference.

Next Up

United returns to action on Friday, May 21, when the club travels north to Colorado Springs. Their opponent that night, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1-1-0), is coming off of a loss to San Antonio FC. The match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 pm (MDT) from Weidner Field.

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United host Austin Bold FC in first home match since 2019

From October 19, 2019, until May 6, 2021, The Lab stood dormant while the world was shut down due to COVID-19. On May 6th, the Isotopes were able to return, and now it’s New Mexico United’s turn to play in front of their own supporters. 

After 575 days, the Black and Yellow get to play on their home pitch when they welcome in Austin Bold FC. The series between the two clubs was on hiatus during the 2020 campaign, and when it resumes, United leads the series with a record of 1-1-0. This match is not only United’s first match at home for the season. It is also the season opener for Austin. 

Coming off of a record of 5-4-7 in 2020, the Bold will be looking to improve and make a return to the playoffs. Head Coach Marcelo Serrano will no doubt have his side prepared for the new campaign. With some new faces on his bench, Austin looks to be a contender within the Mountain Division on paper. 

Omar Gordon looks to be the player to lead the Bold attack on the pitch. After a successful stint at OKC Energy FC, Gordon made a move in the offseason to Texas to play alongside fellow newcomers Jason Johnson and Stefano Pinho. The trio of forwards each has shown in prior stops that they are capable of scoring almost at will and are dangerous any time they have possession of the ball. 

Behind them, Serrano brought in a plethora of new faces in one of the biggest offseason changes within the division. It was a necessary move after the departures of Bold mainstays Diego Restrepo, Andre Lima, and more. 

Players to Watch

Sean Okoli – Yet another forward that was added by Austin during the offseason. Okoli netted seven goals in 2020 for Orange County. Austin’s attack has been greatly bolstered by the group of forwards that Serrano has signed this year. 

Hugo Fauroux – Bold’s newest keeper is potentially the replacement for Restrepo. The 6’ 1” Frenchman last played for Palm Beach Stars after beginning his professional career overseas. With his build, he is an imposing frame between the sticks. 

On what is sure to be an emotional night for New Mexico United, the goal has to remain priority number one. The biggest question for the club is how will they manage those emotions and can they maintain their composure. For the majority of the current roster, this will be their first time in front of the home crowd and the atmosphere they create.

Head Coach Troy Lesesne will have to instruct his players to lean on the club veterans to provide valuable leadership on the pitch. Players like Devon Sandoval and Josh Suggs, who have been here since the beginning, know what it takes to play at The Lab. Their guidance will benefit everyone else on the club, especially the younger players. The entire club will need to be on the same page and keep their emotions in check.

After the heartbreaking draw in El Paso last weekend, United knows how important it is that they find a way to win. Already sitting five points back of division leaders RGV FC, United has to get their play in the final third on track. There were signs of improvement against El Paso, but not enough to get three points. 

The Lab has been like a fortress for United since its inception. For them to get the win this weekend, the midfield has to be the engine for the player on the pitch. The link-up play between them and the forwards has left something to be desired so far. Juan Pablo Guzman and Michael Azira can be the catalysts the club needs this weekend. 

Players to Watch

Brian Brown – The Jamaican international hasn’t seen much playing time yet in the regular season so far. However, when he is on the pitch, he has improved every time out and provides a great second option besides Sandoval. 

Kalen Ryden – With so much still unknown about how the Bold will play this season, Kalen and his leadership will be crucial. One of the most vocal players on the club, Kalen’s voice needs to be heard, and the right reads made to subdue the Bold attack.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled for a 7:30 pm (MDT) kickoff. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+. You can listen live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, online at www.1017theteam.com, and on the TEAM App. 

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El Paso scores late, steals a point against United in 1 – 1 draw

Down in El Paso, New Mexico United looked like a completely different club from the opening whistle. Their play on the pitch felt like it was a vast improvement over the season opener against RGV. 

Having controlled much of the early possession, United won themselves a free-kick from a dangerous spot inside of the eighth minute. The ball was delivered into the box where Kalen Ryden was able to put a head to it. Ryden’s header had plenty of pace on it, but it went across the face of the goal and wide right of the goal. 

As is customary in this rivalry, there was no shortage of physical play from either side. Compared to the prior match, the number of whistles heard was significantly less and the two sides were allowed to play. That allowed both clubs to try and establish a relatively quick pace of play. When the whistle was sounded, United did a much better job of managing the stoppages.

With time passing, play opened up for both sides as they went end to end looking for a way to break the deadlock. It wasn’t until the 40th minute that play began to slow down after El Paso had consecutive set-piece opportunities. Both were dealt with handily by United, preventing the hosts from finding the net. 

Coming out of the half, the level of intensity never wavered. Moments into the half, Harry Swartz was taken down outside the box giving the visitors a set-piece around twenty-one yards out from goal. Isidro Martinez would deliver a powerful shot on the restart, which took down Bryam Rebellon for a few minutes.

As the match continued, one trend became clear; United was going to continue trying to play the ball long into the forwards. That tactic finally paid off in the 57th. Ryden played the ball over the top and it fell to Swartz making a run down the left-wing. Swartz’s speed allowed him to get in behind the back line of El Paso, causing Logan Ketterer to come off his line. With Ketterer abandoning the goal, Swartz laid the ball off to Devon Sandoval who easily put it into the back of the net for the 1 – 0 lead. 

In the 80th, the Locomotive had a chance to level the score when Diego Luna was played into the box. His left-footed shot had plenty of pace on it, but the shot was saved by Alex Tambakis. The rebound nearly fell to another Locomotive player, but Ryden once again stepped up and put his body on the line to clear the danger.

With regular time winding down, it was announced that there would be six minutes of stoppage time. The longer the clock ran, the more intense the play on the pitch became. A scuffle at the center circle somehow resulted in no discipline for either side. Just when it looked like United was going to walk away with three points, El Paso was able to steal a point.

In the sixth and final minute of stoppage time, Josue Gomez chipped a ball into the box that managed to fall for Leandro Carrijo. Carrijo put his right foot on the ball and past Tambakis to level the score.

Man of the Match

Austin Yearwood – With his second strong appearance in a row, Austin did everything asked of him and more. 4 duels won, 2 aerial duels won, 5 clearances and all around great play gave United every chance to win 

Up Next

Next up for United is their home opener on Saturday, May 15th against Austin Bold FC. The match marks the first time since October 19, 2019, that United will have played at The Lab, 575 days prior. The match on Saturday night is scheduled for a 7:30 pm (MDT) kickoff. 

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Rivalry renewed, United to face El Paso Locomotive FC

Saturday night’s venue will be a familiar one for New Mexico United and their supporters. Once again, Southwest University Park plays host to another installment of the rivalry between United and El Paso Locomotive FC. 

The two clubs are now in their third year of existence, and since their inception, each has had an impact on the Western Conference. Both made the playoffs in each of their first two seasons and are looking to take the next step forward. El Paso’s next step begins this weekend with their first match of the 2021 season. 

El Paso comes into the weekend with a roster that remains very similar to that of last year. Nearly half of their players returned and should be familiar with what Head Coach Mark Lowry wants to in his system. That familiarity could be just what El Paso needs as they work towards leveling back out the series. 

Players to Watch 

Yuma – The Locomotive defender has been an integral part of the El Paso squad since its inception. A versatile defender, he isn’t afraid to mix it up on the pitch, resulting in several cards in the series with United.

Dylan Mares – Another multi-talented player, Mares has shown an ability to create from nothing. Not only does he have the ability to create opportunities for others, but he has shown that he is capable of scoring from several areas. 

United’s season didn’t get off to the start they were hoping for. After falling to RGV 1-0, the club is looking to pick up their first win, and it won’t be easy. Although they hold a slim margin in series between the two clubs, the results in 2020 seemed to swing the momentum towards the Locomotive. Paired with United’s performance in the 2021 opener, this could be one of the toughest matches of the season. 

The Black and Yellow have to get out on the right foot if they want to get their season on track. In this weekend’s match, that starts with the midfield. After Andrew Tinari missed out on the opening weekend and Michael Azira didn’t perform up to expectations, the onus is on whoever gets the start this week to make a statement. The Locomotive midfield is one of the more talented groups in the Mountain Division, if not the entire Western Conference. United has to control the midfield by slowing down the attack of El Paso and creating chances for the forwards. 

Players to Watch

Andrew Tinari – Tinari was tenacious in the midfield throughout the 2020 season and that intensity was missed against RGV. If he can return this weekend, Tinari should match up well against players like Mares and help solidify the middle of the pitch.

Austin Yearwood – Coming off of one of his best performances ever in the black and yellow, Austin will be busy on Saturday night. All of the forwards for El Paso can generate space and shoot from many different angles. With his reaction time and ability to read his opponents, Austin will hear his name called plenty of times.

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 pm (MDT) from Southwest University Park in El Paso. The match can be viewed domestically on ESPN+ and can be seen by international viewers on YouTube.

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2021 Dallas Cowboys Draft Review

Now that the 2021 NFL Draft is in our rearview mirror, let’s take a look back at how the draft went for the Dallas Cowboys. Before the draft day, the Cowboys originally owned ten picks before making a trade that gifted them another. After seeing their favorite prospect, Patrick Surtain II, taken 9th overall, the Cowboys decided to trade back. In a trade with Philadelphia, the Cowboys received picks 12 and 84, while the Eagles moved up two spots to the 10th pick.

With the 12th pick, the Cowboys drafted Micah Parsons, a linebacker out of Penn State. Parsons, listed at 6’4” and 250 lbs, possess what can only be described as elite speed from the linebacker position. Before opting out of the 2020 season, he was named All-Big Ten First Team and Big Ten linebacker of the year. He comes into the league with the ability to be effective in both the run and pass defense, with his only slight weakness being open-field tackling. With both Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith producing less than ideal seasons in 2020, the Cowboys selected an excellent addition to their linebacker core.

The Cowboys selected Kelvin Josep, a cornerback from Kentucky, with their second-round pick (44th overall). Here is where the Cowboys ultimately filled their need at the cornerback position. Joseph is a 5’11” 197 lb corner whose athletic traits are what make him stand out. For a corner, he is a good help in run defense. However, he’s relatively inexperienced due to a lack of playing time. His physical attributes could allow him to be a real problem for receivers. However, he seemed to be undisciplined when it came to penalties and sticking to his assignments. With inexperience, this is expected, but he has real upside at the cornerback position.

At 75th overall, the Cowboys selected Osa Odighizuwa, a DT out of UCLA, to further strengthen their poor run defense. Odighizuwa measures in at 6’2” and 280 lbs and can play almost any position on the defensive line. Where his value lies is in the experience that he has. He played consistently for every year of his college career at UCLA, where he was first-team All-Pac12 in 2020. He features rapid movements with both his hands and feet for the DT position. However, he might not have the pure size to play that position on every snap in the NFL. Expect the Cowboys to experiment with him at different spots on the line.

With the 84th overall pick, the Cowboys selected Chauncey Golston, an edge rusher from Iowa. Golston is a physical specimen, standing at 6’5” and 270 lbs. However, this may have been something of a reach for the Cowboys. Golston was a projected 6th round pick who doesn’t show anything extraordinary coming off the edge. Entering the NFL, he needs to develop more effective pass rush moves and improve upon his speed. His measurables assure that he has the potential to do well, but this seems like an extremely risky pick inside the top 100.

At 99th overall, the Cowboys took Nahshon Wright, a cornerback out of Oregon State. This is another pick that might be considered an extreme reach. Wright, a 6’4” corner, weighs in at only 184 lbs, making him quite skinny. What works in his favor are his receiver-like instincts. Wright will effectively challenge many high balls thrown to his man and attack the ball as a receiver might. In an NFL weight program, he has upside, but to take a player projected to go undrafted in the 3rd round might prove a bad move in the future.

In what could turn out to be a massive steal, the Cowboys were able to snag Jabril Cox out of LSU in the 4th round (pick 115). Cox, a 6’3” 230lb linebacker, thrives as an athlete in the passing game from the linebacker position. Once he plants his feet, he displays excellent speed and ability to move from sideline to sideline. He tends to overthink and sometimes take too long to get moving, but pairing him with Micah Parsons spells out an excellent linebacker class for the Cowboys. Look for Cox to possibly be considered one of the steals in this draft class.

With the 138th pick, the Cowboys selected Josh Ball, a 6’7”, 310 lb tackle from Marshall. Ball provides pure football talents and outstanding physical attributes for the tackle position. Ball has had character issues in the past, which saw him dismissed from Florida State, but with those issues taken care of, he has the potential to be a stud. Marshall was a first-team all-conference choice, and he brings feet and hand quickness to the table. However, he needs to do a better job creating leverage on the outside. This was a good pickup for the Cowboys in the 4th round.

The Cowboys took Simi Fehoko, a receiver out of Stanford, with the 179th pick. Fehoko is a good combo of size and speed, standing at 6’4”. While he might not be incredibly effective in a check-down type scheme, he can break off for massive plays relatively often. He was taken right where he was projected to be, and with some polishing, could become a good starting receiver for the Cowboys in the future. The most significant roadblock for him will be working his way up through the Cowboys’ already talented receiver core.

At the 192nd pick, the Cowboys chose another man out of Kentucky, defensive lineman Quinton Bohanna. Bohanna is a huge guy, standing at 6’4” and 330 lbs. He has lots of experience through college and does a great job of eating up space and plugging up holes in the run games. With his size comes a lack of speed, but his potential to bowl over any center he faces makes him a threat in the defensive line.

With the 227th pick, the Cowboys took Israel Mukuamu, a cornerback from South Carolina. Mukuamu was an excellent value pick for the Cowboys, who could’ve easily gone a lot earlier in this Draft. At 6’4” and 212 lbs, Mukuamu has the desired physical traits for a corner that also make him great in the press. Once he drops into coverage, his footwork may cause him problems, but his upside is tremendous, and if properly trained, he has the potential to be a physically dominating corner.

With their last pick, the Cowboys selected Matt Farniok from Nebraska 238th overall. Farniok’s primary attribute is his ability to move around on the line. While he may not be fundamentally ready to start in the NFL yet, he is highly versatile with respectable measurables. He has good linemen ahead of him to learn from, which will undoubtedly benefit him in the future.

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