By Seth Biddulph | April 19, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico United
Homecomings are meant to be special. Oftentimes they can be bittersweet. For New Mexico United (3-0-4) forward Chris Wehan, this weekend is sure to be an emotional trip no matter the outcome. United are on the road again, this time to take on Wehan’s former club Reno 1868 FC (2-1-3) at Greater Nevada Field in Reno, Nevada.
After going undrafted in the 2017 SuperDraft, the UNM alum signed with Reno and made quite the impression. Racking up a total of 12 assists and 8 goals in his rookie season, Wehan would go on to win the USL Rookie of the Year, USL Assists Champion and was named First-Team All-League. In his last match for Reno, Chris was able to find a goal and now in his first match against them, he looks to do the same.
United are riding high coming off of a 5-1 victory that featured goals from Wehan, Santi Moar and Kevaughn Frater. With what was largely considered their most complete performance of the year, the club continues to show the league just how dangerous they can be. With the league’s leading scorer and one of the top keepers, New Mexico will be a tough obstacle for any club to face.
New Mexico’s continued success comes from working within the system installed by Coach Troy Lesesne, playing the ball up the wings and pressing their opponents. The resiliency of the club may well be one of the keys to the match. Reno have struggled to close out their matches this year, giving up 2+ goal leads in multiple matches.
UPDATE: Visa issues have previously kept Ethen Sampson (D), Daniel Bruce (M), and Ken Akamatsu (M) out of the 23 man roster, but with those issues resolved, Coach Troy Lesesne now welcomes 3 talented additions to his ranks. All 23 players are listed available on the roster.
Players to Watch:
Santi Moar – After his first career Hat Trick, is there anything that Moar can’t do? Moar has showcased that he can shoot with his right and left foot so look to see if they double up defenders on him this week.
Chris Wehan – Coming off his best appearance of the year, 1 goal and 2 assists, Wehan will look to be a creator. His vision of the field and ability to move in space will be a contributing factor to the United game plan.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
Goals: Santi Moar (7)
Assists: Chris Wehan, Manny Padilla, Josh Suggs (2)
Saves: Cody Mizell (23)
Despite their second half defensive struggles, their offense has been a different story. Behind the legs of Brian Brown, Reno have been solid and have scored in every match so far this year. They are coming into the weekend on the heels of a win in their last match against Colorado 2-0.
With five goals so far, Brown is putting together a solid campaign. Add an assist to his tally and he’s been involved in over half of the goals scored by Reno. Containing Brown will be key to United coming away with a result this weekend.
Players to Watch:
Brian Brown – the offensive leader for the club, Brown is extremely talented. With a knack for finding the ball in dangerous areas, United will need to keep the pressure on him throughout the match.
Zach Carroll – One of the toughest defenders in the league, Carroll has already posted nine interceptions and nine blocks. For United to have a chance they will need to find a way to play in space around Carroll.
Reno 1868 FC Team Leaders
Goals: Brian Brown (5)
Assists: Corey Hertzog (1)
Saves: Matt Bersano (14)
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain). International viewers will be able to watch the match live on YouTube. ESPN+ is viewable online via the ESPN app or across a variety of mobile and connected living room devices, including Amazon’s Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and more.
Photo Credit: Josh Lane/NM United
Seth Biddulph is a beat reporter for Seek and Strike Collective covering the beat on New Mexico United. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation@SethBiddulph