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Match 6: New Mexico United Close Out Road Series With A Draw Against Rio Grande Valley FC

Dynamo Loaners Add Muscle to Rio Grande Valley FC’s Elusive Attack Dynamic, New Mexico United Close Out Three Match Road Series in A Draw

By Christopher Walker | April 9, 2019 |seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

Match 6, POST-MATCH EDITION: Rio Grande Valley FC Unable To Seal Victory Against Scoreless New Mexico United As Match Ends In A Draw, 0-0 FT

New Mexico United isn’t winning all of their games but, they are winning over all of their doubters one soccer club at a time. The club has yet to experience defeat this season (Record 2-0-4) and only two other clubs can share this feat with them, Phoenix Rising and Fresno FC. New Mexico United played both of these clubs and the result was a draw. New Mexico United may dawn the expansion brand label but they are not lacking the experience to compete at this level. This has been evident as the ESPN+ commentators have slowed down on making this new team the brunt of their sharp criticism. Instead, Coach Troy Lesesne and company have been heralded as quickly becoming the team to beat.

New Mexico United has just closed out a three match road series playing to a 0-0 draw against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (RGV FC) in Edinburg Texas this past Saturday night. On the Western Conference table, these two teams held two different standings, with New Mexico tied for second and RGV FC sitting in last place. RGV FC Coach Gerson Echeverry knew he had to switch up his game plan against New Mexico United based upon the prowess they showcase on the pitch. Echeverry was concerned namely with New Mexico’s fast pace, which gave them the ability to score in every game. Echeverry’s pre-game strategy was to dictate the pace and make sure New Mexico was defending more than they could attack RGV FC.

RGV FC’s MLS affiliate, Houston Dynamo, loaned RGV FC five defensive players to ensure that Echeverry’s game plan would be executed. RGV fielded one midfielder, three defenders, and a goalkeeper from the transaction. RGV FC’s starting eleven was now half USL-rostered talent and MLS-rostered talent. Specifically, two defenders were positioned to take away the right-wing and right-middle lane towards the goal, two sweet spots for many New Mexico United’s goals scored this season. One defender was placed on the left side of the goal because New Mexico has also threatened from that side of the field with cross passes as well. The midfielder was placed in the center to bring head off any attack through the middle and lastly, a fresh goalkeeper not barren down by previous match results.

New Mexico United has made a noticeable impact on United Soccer League clubs if their MLS affiliate is sending down players to attempt to take the edge away from them. At this time, it is unknown if New Mexico United Coach Lesesne will ever reach out to MLS affiliates for loaners. He and his club have set the tone in each match thus far this season and brought a high level of experience into opposing teams’ stadiums. It does not appear that New Mexico made any adjustments for this match against RGV FC. New Mexico really doesn’t have the luxury of shifting their starting eleven as much with the amount of injury that has plagued them this season.

Kevaughn Frater was not in New Mexico United’s starting eleven on Saturday because he is out injured and his absence up front really proved to be a negative impact New Mexico United’s ability to threaten RGV FC’s goal throughout the night. New Mexico United was held to just 7 shots taken with only 1 being on target. Frater took 7 shots alone himself last week against Tacoma Defiance. Earlier in this season, the conservative approach to shots taken was efficient because half of them were on target with a greater 25-30 conversion rate of becoming a goal. Saturday’s performance by New Mexico United really shows how great an impact five MLS loaned players made on a potent New Mexico United attack strategy. But it also shows how great an impact injury has been on this roster.

The majority of New Mexico’s shots happened within the first 30 minutes of the first half and almost all forwards and midfielders contributed to a shot. RGV FC really contained Santi Moar, Chris Wehan and Ryan Williams throughout the night. Though New Mexico United had possession 52 percent of the match, it seemed as if RGV FC really controlled the pace and had New Mexico United playing defense most of the time, as they had set out to do.

The second half clearly belonged mostly to RGV FC who had a combined 14 shots taken with only 2 being on target. It also notable to mention that RGV FC became more physical in the second half drawing 3 of their 4 yellow cards, whereas New Mexico only drew 1 yellow card in the evening. New Mexico United goalkeeper, Cody Mizell, played as much of an effort as he could making key saves and blocks but, it was really poor technique on behalf of RGV FC that contributed to their inability to score with so many opportunities. If RGV FC could have found the net on one of their many attempts, RGV FC was sure to win this match. RGV FC placed more emphasis on their defense than their attack and it showed by the end of the night.

Mizell managed to exit the game with his first clean sheet this season. New Mexico United come off a three match road series battle-tested with an unblemished record in the loss column hoping to earn their third win this season against the visiting Real Monarchs of Salt Lake City at Isotopes Park on April 13, 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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