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Match 4: Santi Moar Stays Hot, New Mexico Undefeated Vs. OCSC


Match 4, POST-MATCH EDITION: Orange County SC earn draw in last minutes in match with New Mexico United, 2-2 FT

By Christopher Walker | March 25, 2019 |

Striking While It’s Hot: Santi Moar stays hot, Frater is heating up! Who’s next?!

It’s a similar story to last week’s match against Tulsa, forward Santi Moar continues to stay hot scoring his 4th goal of the season. Moar found the back of the net by a header, at the 15-minute mark, off a well-placed cross by Manny Padilla to bring his scoring streak to 3 matches in a row. New Mexico United benefit from Moar’s efforts bringing their streak of scoring the leading goal to four games. Kevaughn Frater managed to intercept a short pass made by Orange County’s defender Kevin Alston to goalkeeper Aaron Cervantes by timing out a speed burst to trap the ball before hard juking Cervantes on the way to jousting the ball into the net. Frater scored his second goal of the season at the 33-minute mark. New Mexico was up 2-0 with 60 minutes of play remaining in this match. This is the third time in 4 matches that New Mexico has started the second half with their opponent still being scoreless.

Moar and Frater were without Devon Sandoval, who was sidelined with an injury prior to the onset of this match. Coach Troy Lesesne is showing some strong character early on making decisions that impact both sides of the ball with more of the weight falling on the attacking strategy. This may explain why the second half seems like such an adverse to the aggressive approach taken in the first half. In Sandoval’s absence, Ryan Williams joins the double scoring threat of Moar and Frater. Justin Schmidt suffered injury prior to the kickoff during warmups so Tommy Madden got the nod to start the match. This is his first start. Captain Josh Suggs shifted in from left back to center back to fill Schmidt’s departure while Madden played left back, and Manny Padilla shifted to the opposite side of the field to support Santi Moar in the air. Lesesne must be pleased with the outcome of the sudden changes given the fact his club responded so quickly to the adjustment by securing early scores almost 15 minutes apart from each other.

New Mexico continues to play solid through the middle of the pitch showcasing while their passing rate is successful. New Mexico continues to be conservative on total shots taken in matches. The team registered 9 shots, 4 of which, were shots on target for their two goals. Two of Moar’s 4 shots were on target with one being for a score. Frater and Williams also contributed to the shot statistics. Cody Mizell, when he plays off the line, flexes his in-goal prowess just as his save percentage indicates why he’s one of the best goalkeepers in the league. New Mexico was far less physical in this match, keeping yellow card issuance to a minimum, preventing Orange County from being awarded any easy points from penalty kicks.

Keep Striking When It’s Not: Lesesne & Crew offering Outdoor Education in Orange County. United exit with a D-raw, which is passing if they learned something from the experience.

Its well-known after four matches that the New Mexico has a heavy-laden attack in the first half of every match, home and away. Let that sink in. That has been the tempo each time. It is also well-known that New Mexico spends much of the second half playing the ball at the middle of the pitch until their opponent begins to descend upon them driving them back into their own territory. Orange County unloaded on New Mexico and started to re-discover their championship form. New Mexico managed to keep Orange County scoreless for 59 minutes for their eventual first goal. New Mexico could have walked away with a victory if they had kept Orange County scoreless for 36 more minutes, however, Orange County crashed the goal and found the inside of the net at the 90+2-minute mark or 33 minutes later from the first goal. Another draw. It’s not the outcome Lesesne was looking for to kick off this 3-week long road trip.

I don’t think New Mexico leaves Orange County empty-handed though. He has begun to address three critical areas impacting his club: injuries, inexperience, and fatigue. While many see this as a 2-2 draw with no sign of any second half onslaught, I see this as an opportunity for Lesesne to address these areas of opportunity. Lesesne will be able dream up new starting eleven combinations and substitutions respectively to mount second half scoring runs. I want to highlight a few elements present in this game to support my thoughts about Lesesne’s efforts.

Lesesne addressed the injuries that his club is experiencing by adjusting players’ roles in the lineup. This rounds out the lineup making the players more versatile. Lesesne addressed the inexperience on his roster by putting young players in the game with a veteran solid rotation. This brings young mouths to the table to feed to learn how to feed themselves eventually. Lesesne addressed fatigue through his timing on when substitutions were made at the 67, 73, and 77-minute marks for players who can play an entire game. This takes the pressure off marquee players and keeps the club roster from ever appearing to seem one-sided.  

If New Mexico is ever able to send Moar, Sandoval, and Frater in as second half substitutions, it would be a direct result of these above-mentioned efforts. Lesesne must develop his roster so that all his players can go into the match at any given point and contribute. So perhaps it wasn’t the same New Mexico fell apart song we think we’re seeing. I believe Lesesne sees added value in addressing these limits early on for the return on investment they will bring midway through the season.

Strike Anywhere: New Mexico United is out there on the road working hard and growing as a family. They will return home in even better shape to contend for a full 90 minutes with all hands-on deck.

Let’s review some notes I made from the last match and see if New Mexico addressed them:

“For the next three matches on the road, New Mexico must find a way to play a balanced game. It’ll be a good test for them playing especially to the cadence of the home team’s supporters. There has to be just as much offense in the second half as there has been in the first half. It may be time to think about reconfiguring the starting eleven so that there’s some bang left in the tank to hold off the late match rally campaigns that are proving to be successful against them. Their opponents are surely subbing in scoring threats late into the second half at the sight of fatigue. New Mexico must make it a family affair using all hands-on deck. If the United can play championship level teams in their own backyard never trailing, as seen in the Phoenix Rising match, along with mounting a late game rally of their own.

I believe New Mexico has addressed some of my observations from the first three matches. There is nothing the club can do about injuries and the timing of when they occur. The statement must be made again New Mexico United are a showcasing contender-like traits early on in this inaugural season but, they still have some things to address to stay in this conversation amongst the proven clubs in the conference, as well as, the league. Time will tell all for New Mexico. New Mexico travels to up north to Washington state to face the Tacoma Defiance on March 29th, 2019.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Josh Lane Photography

Christopher Walker is a beat reporter for the Seek and Strike Collective covering the beat on New Mexico United and Albuquerque Sol soccer. Follow him on Twitter @_ChrisWalker505

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