By Seth Biddulph | May 18, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
New Mexico advanced to the third round of the Open Cup on Wednesday night. In dramatic fashion, United was able to outduel Phoenix Rising in penalty kicks after 120 minutes of open play. Even with a team sheet that had several changes in an effort to rotate the squad, having to play that long will still take a toll. Coupled with the travel and lack of time off, this may well be a trap match for United. I have faith that United Technical Director and Head Coach, Troy Lesesne, has a plan up his sleeve to try and get the best out of the club.
Without a doubt, New Mexico United (4-1-6) has earned some time off. They aren’t quite there yet and still having to go through Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (2-6-2) before they get a brief respite from traveling. Over the past week, United have had two matches and tonight’s match against Colorado will be the third in eight days. As welcome as the break is, United cannot look past this weekend. Now is a perfect opportunity to build some momentum. And if United needed any more motivation, this installment of the Four Corners Cup could have United sitting on seven points and comfortably ahead of the pack for the time being.
United will be without the services of Santi Moar for this match after being shown a red card against El Paso. With Santi unavailable and Chris Wehan playing a lot of minutes on Wednesday, we may see Daniel Bruce get a spot start. In what is to be a tired side, the inclusion of Bruce could be a spark for the club.
This could also be a chance for the defensive unit to get themselves another clean sheet. Colorado has been shutout six times this season. We saw a tremendous display from Ethen Sampson in his debut and he could be in for another solid performance. It will most likely fall to Ethen or Josh Suggs to keep an eye on Shane Malcolm. Malcolm, who is Colorado’s top scorer, has the ability to score when not kept in check. In some ways, attack-wise, you could categorize Colorado’s in-game style as being similar to El Paso if given the right look. United must be patient and not over-pursue.
Players to watch:
Daniel Bruce – I would love to see Bruce get the start. In a matchup like this, Bruce could have an impactful night.
Ethen Sampson – I don’t know how much match time Ethen will get this week, but after his performance in Phoenix I’d say give him as many as he wants. His situational awareness and pace make him extremely effective in going forward and tracking back.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
Goals: Moar, Kevaughn Frater (7)
Assists: Wehan, Frater, Manny Padilla, Suggs (3)
Saves: Cody Mizell (36)
Colorado Springs has its work cut out for them against United. Their season to this point has been hamstrung by a lack of scoring and a high concession rate. With only 9 goals scored and 17 conceded, it’s no surprise where they sit in the table.
Even with the lack of results, United can’t be complacent or they will be punished by Malcolm. Watch for Colorado to continue to cross the ball in a concerted attempt to find Malcolm or even Jordan Burt. Colorado has a 70 percent pass accuracy in their opponents’ half and take full advantage of opportunities to serve the ball into the box off of cross plays. United doesn’t have a lot of height so closing down will be especially important.
Players to Watch:
Shane Malcolm – the midfielder has shown more than many would have expected at this point in the season. 16 chances created and three goals speak for themselves, Malcolm is very talented.
Abraham Rodriguez – despite leading the club in conceded goals, he also leads in saves. While not the smallest player in the league, he may be susceptible if we can get him going one way before putting it on the opposite side of the net.
Colorado Springs Team Leaders
Goals: Malcolm, Burt (3)
Assists: Mike Seth (2)
Saves: Rodriguez (24)
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain) on Sunday, May 12. 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.
Image Credit: Josh Lane/NM United
Seth Biddulph is a beat writer for Seek & Strike Collective covering the beat on New Mexico United. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation @SethBiddulph
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