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Above the Brim: Frater Tips Hat A Second Time, United Sit Atop of the West

Match 12, Post-Match Edition: Kevaughn Frater collects his second Hat Trick as New Mexico United defeat Colorado Switchbacks FC 3-1 in Full Time.

By Chris Walker | May 21, 2019 | seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

Kevaughn Frater has been playing with four yellow cards since the close of the match against Portland Timbers FC 2. It has been a total of four matches, which includes the Open Cup pairing with Phoenix Rising since New Mexico United found themselves in the running for the lead of the USL Western Conference. It was all made possible by the ferocity of Frater’s foot as he went on to bag a Hat Trick in the final minute of stoppage time on April 26, 2019. The prospect of sitting out one game must have crossed his mind in the match against San Antonio FC. San Antonio’s players took advantage of Frater’s infractions hoping to bait him to cross the line by pushing, pulling, and shoving him.

He outwitted them and managed to play an entire game and contribute towards his teams’ 3-nil victory and eventual lead of the conference. Frater stayed in the entire match because he had the trust and confidence of his Technical Director and Head Coach, Troy Lesesne. “I challenged him at half time and said look man you need to do more,” Lesesne commented. “Kev can handle that physical play so I wasn’t worried about him.” Lesesne and Frater in tandem did not let up in this match or the ones to follow.

 On Saturday evening at Weidner Field, Frater, and his team, New Mexico United came ready to play against his former club, Colorado Switchbacks FC. United players, Josh Suggs and Sam Hamilton also played for Switchbacks FC. Frater lined up across from Devon Sandoval, Chris Wehan played center midfielder while Suggs played left fullback, his signature position. Suggs was used more on the attack-side this evening due to Santi Moar’s absence from the eleven. Moar was serving his one-game ban in street clothes sitting in the stands. David Estrada made some quality runs and was able to fire off some shots. Estrada usually sets up the counter-attack so it is nice to see a larger role for him in this match. United has to be able to score from the left, center, and right side of the pitch to keep opponents honest in how they align their defenders.

Switchbacks FC, set in a 4-2-3-1 formation throughout this match, had similar numbers on the night against United like Locomotive FC. Switchbacks FC managed to fire off 21 shots (not blocked), 5 were on target. Their time in possession was limited to about 48 percent of the match. Coming into the match, it was known that Switchbacks FC served up the cross and it was evident again by their 27 attempts. It means United’s defense was stout enough to stave off any straightforward attacks. Switchbacks FC pass accuracy in United’s half was less than their season average of 70 percent, which means United did a good job of closing down on them. Only one goal came from their efforts.

On the opposite half of the pitch, United moved the ball around fluidly, exercising patience. There were at least 7 to 10 touches on the ball before shots were taken. United only took 9 shots (not blocked), 5 were on target.  United’s attack strategy didn’t involve many crosses and that’s due mainly in part to United’s pass accuracy being 76 percent in Switchback FC’s half. United’s interwoven passes to each other between defenders kept Switchback FC stationary and reactive most of United’s possession. United’s efforts helped set up Frater’s second Hat Trick (18’, 36’, and 75’) of the season. This is the attack strategy Lesesne hoped for on the evening United played Locomotive FC. It is evident that United’s efforts are paying off for them as they now sit atop the Western Conference with a 3 point lead over Portland Timbers FC 2. Of course, this has come at a small cost as Frater picked up his fifth yellow card at 88’ and now will serve a one-game ban against Austin Bold in a week. Just in time for Moar’s return to the lineup. It may not have been a bad place for Frater to pick up his fifth yellow card given the tough match schedule starting in two weeks.

United have now played a third of the way through their inaugural season. Lesesne is not completely satisfied with his teams’ performance. United have shown good fight through their struggles. Still, Lesesne feels deeply about the progress that must be made for the club to be where they should be according to his instinct.

“I think we’re closer to what I think our capability is. I think we’re definitely moving in the right direction. But at the same time again, I look at the things we can improve on and I still think we can fine-tune certain areas of the game both in the possession and out of possession,” Lesesne said. “We’re not hitting on all cylinders yet. We’re almost 3 months into the season and we’re in a good spot. I’m not taking anything away from that but we have a long way to go still.”

Lesesne said his club had Sunday and Monday off. So today they’re starting to train for their upcoming match this Saturday against Austin Bold FC. Seek & Strike Collective’s Seth Biddulph talked about United’s upcoming match with Bold FC on the We Are Seek and Strike Podcast this week and will also be releasing a match preview on Friday. You can read more about what United must do to win this match. 

Next Up: New Mexico United visit Austin Bold FC on Saturday, May 25, 2019.

Image Credit: Adam Nish/Seek & Strike Collective

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

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