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New Mexico United Rally Late to Derail Locomotive FC 2-Game Win Streak in Rio GranDerby Rivalry Match

Match 11, Post-Match Edition: New Mexico United trailed El Paso Locomotive throughout the match finding a way to match each goal scored sending the match into a 2-2 draw as a final result after stoppage time.

By Chris Walker | May 14, 2019 | seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

(El Paso, Texas) New Mexico United was clearly outplayed but, not outmatched when it came to play against El Paso Locomotive FC. Locomotive FC has found a winning formula this season, while United struggle to keep momentum up week-to-week. The table standings tell a different story. United sits atop the Western Conference tied for the lead with Portland Timbers 2 after the weekend. Locomotive FC are still trailing the lead by five points and sitting eleven positions below United. In this match-up between the two expansion sides, Locomotive FC started but was unable to finish and United trailed but found a way to stay in the match by players who haven’t found the net much this season.

United over-pursued at times and lost their footing causing them to slip on the pitch, which created so many scoring chances for El Paso Locomotive FC. Though Locomotive FC were not able to capitalize on their many opportunities. Still, Locomotive FC’s Jerome Kiesewetter bagged a brace with goals scored at 36’ (Assisted by Calvin Rezendle) and 65’ (Assisted by Sebastián Contreras). Kiesewetter had become so elusive through the match in United’s back line, which is a clear result of how potent Locomotive FC’s attack strategy was with 7 players each contributing to the 17 shots taken on the night. United goalkeeper, Cody Mizell, had one of his best showings making 4 saves on the night. Mizell’s efforts, along with Locomotive FC’s inability to lock-in close-range shots tell part of the story for why Locomotive FC didn’t win this match outright.

On Kiesewetter getting many looks:

“We’re trying to do like we always do and press high up the pitch. I think they did a good job of moving the ball around,” Technical Director Troy Lesesne said. “I don’t think we were our best tonight in terms of being able to disrupt. I think they did well possessing out of the back. That allowed them to then have chances to serve the ball into the box because they built out possession-wise,” Lesesne added.

Locomotive FC kept its shape throughout this match playing in a 4-2-3-1. They swarmed up United’s side of the pitch, which took away United’s ability to pass the ball effectively from left to right. United’s pass accuracy took a major hit sitting at just 80 percent, when it’s normally in at high 80s to low 90s in their own half against opponents. Locomotive FC made it hard for United to move the ball through the middle of the pitch and managed to take away Santi Moar’s usual patch of green by lending their defensive strength to his side. Locomotive FC’s pass accuracy through United’s half was at 75 percent, which is the reason they served up 23 crosses and took 17 shots, 10 of which were from inside the box. Locomotive FC made the most of their possession maintaining the ball 57 percent of the match.

On giving possessions away:

“We couldn’t find the first pass out and again, that’s credit to El Paso tonight. I think they did a good job of closing us down and not allowing us to play the first pass out tonight,” Lesesne said. “We didn’t really get into a rhythm rotating the ball to the left and right very well. That’s where I think we must stay more patient. We weren’t patient enough tonight to really rotate the ball left and right enough to open them up and again they kept their shape and they went on to attack pretty quickly,” Lesesne added.

This United lineup was set up in a 4-4-1-1 with Devon Sandoval playing striker and Chris Wehan playing support behind him. Moar was sitting left wing and Josh Suggs found his way to the attack often in the night. This lineup was missing Kevaughn Frater, who did not start due to a knock he took in the match against San Antonio FC. This was later confirmed in my post-match q and a with Technical Director, Troy Lesesne. United’s attack strategy was clearly non-existent. On the night, United managed to only execute a team-low of 5 shots with 3 being on target. These numbers are deceiving given the outcome of the night.

Lesesne’s adjustment of having Wehan behind Sandoval seemed like a miss. It justified Locomotive FC’s formation to squelch any sort of central attack from the top of United’s formation. The lanes were congested to say the least. United were outplayed in this match-up most of the game. Though, United have appeared to fire on all cylinders when Wehan was playing out wide. This being part of Lesesne’ s latest experimental versions of the lineup.  Frater’s re-introduction to the starting eleven should make that possible again, which in turn will be instrumental in spreading out the arsenal. United’s come-from-behind draw is a team effort and that’s evident in how they kept fighting to find chances and came up big with goals scored by Sam Hamilton at 45+2’ (Assisted by Manny Padilla ) and Ryan Williams at 79’ (Assisted by Josh Suggs) while Moar, Frater, Wehan, and Sandoval were kept silent in the goal column on the stats sheet. United continue to showcase their many weapons, Hamilton and Williams served as the United cavalry as the team managed to earn a point on this trip.

Of course, this came at a cost as Moar was shown a red card after a scuffle with Yuma Monsalvez after Monsalvez head-butted Moar at 72’. Moments after, Suggs ran up on Monsalvez and shoved him out of the way. Both clubs had players show up to the scrum to defuse the situation. The occurrence resulted in both players, Moar and Monsalvez, being ejected from the game so both teams played on being a man down. The call is still questionable to why Moar was shown a card since he didn’t appear to be a transgressor in the shuffle. However, this seemed to serve as a good distraction for what would later become Williams’ clutch right-footer for United.

What A Draw Means?

For Lesesne, matches resulting in a draw mean that his club have fallen short of finishing out a match. United is still learning how to win and stay winning. Lesesne has made it clear that no one on the team considers a draw to be a victory. While United coaching personnel continue to dial down their strategy to produce satisfactory results, there’s much to look forward to following this past weekend’s draw with Locomotive FC. United are due for a win against Phoenix Rising FC in the Open Cup. Each of the team’s wins have been preceded by a draw. This is the most consistent trend after reviewing statistical data. Wins just appear to amount to the next draw.

Therefore, moving Wehan from wide to the top makes me wonder if United could have pulled out a win in El Paso if Lesesne kept the formation the same as the match against San Antonio FC. On the road, United is 1-1-4 so there’s a greater chance for them to finish some of the upcoming matches in a draw. If United earns a win against Phoenix Rising FC, Lesesne must keep everything the same in the upcoming match so that his club can win again. If Moar’s red card stands and Frater earns his fifth yellow card in the match against Colorado Springs Switchbacks, the next two USL Championship matches have a high probability on turning out to be draws as United will be missing one of their two leading scorers.

The first installment of the Rio GranDerby Rivalry Match ended in a 2-2 draw after the four minutes of stoppage time expired. Lesesne didn’t seem too phased by the outcome of this match, his take away was just a mere expectation for how the next set of away matches would play out. 

“A lot of guys are going to get opportunities. So, I think it’s going to be fun to see who rotates and who gets a good chance Wednesday and then Saturday the same thing. You know there’s going to be guys that’ll get chances just because there’s so many games away on the road, so it’ll be good for some guys that are hungry and looking for minutes. They’re going to get a great chance,” Lesesne commented.

Up Next:

May 15: New Mexico United v Phoenix Rising in the Second Round of the Open Cup at Casino Arizona Field in Tempe, Arizona at 8:30 pm (Mountain)

May 18: New Mexico United v Colorado Springs Switchbacks at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado at 6:00 pm (Mountain)

Both matches will be streamed live on ESPN+. 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

Chris Walker is a beat writer for Seek & Strike Collective covering the beat on New Mexico United and New Mexico Semi-Pro/Collegiate Soccer. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation. @_ChrisWalker505

Twitter: @SeekandStrikeNM Instagram: @SeekandStrikeNM

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