By Seth Biddulph | May 24, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
United dazzled in the match against Colorado with Kevaughn Frater stealing the show. Along with bagging his second hat trick of the year he also picked up his fifth yellow card. With that caution, United will be without the services of Frater against Austin. There is good news for United supporters though. Santi Moar will be returning, having served his one-game suspension. Speaking after the Colorado match, Technical Director and Head Coach Troy Lesesne stated that the club looked into appealing the card but ultimately decided not to. This turned out to be a great time for Moar to serve the suspension because United’s club wasn’t without scoring threats on the pitch to make due. The big question facing the club now; will Manny Padilla return to the team sheet? After not playing in the second round of the Open Cup, Padilla was conspicuously missing from the team sheet against Colorado. Lesesne did not a reason why he was not available, which begs the question of what happened?
The absences have had a positive effect though; we’ve seen more appearances for Kenny Akamatsu and Daniel Bruce. Not only that, but we’ve seen the emergence of the dominator, Ethen Sampson. In his first league match, Sampson recorded three clearances and two interceptions. His inclusion has given United another well-rounded defender to play alongside Rashid Tetteh.
United have been good on the road this year averaging 1.9 goals per match. For United to continue this trend they will need to unlock the Austin defense. Austin, much like El Paso, is only conceding one goal every 90 minutes. They like to sit back in a 4-4-2 and clog the lanes. That being said, New Mexico was able to break the El Paso defense and will look to do the same this weekend.
As always, the key for United is ball movement. If United can force Bold out of their shape, we could see another three points to end the road trip. In order to accomplish this United have two goals. The first being finding space for Moar. All season long Santi has shown that even with a step of space he can be dangerous. The second thing United will need to do is put pressure on Bold’s center backs. Here, Devon Sandoval will be the key to opening up the channels in the back.
In the defensive third, United may not have much to worry about. Bold has only scored 10 goals on the year. That being said we can’t go easy on them. Seven of their goals have come during matches in which they scored multiple times. Given the efforts of Justin Schmidt and Tetteh of late, there’s a great chance here for a clean sheet.
Players to Watch
In the words of George Michael “I gotta have faith.” And faith I have plenty of in my picks.
Daniel Bruce – Bruce has been showing well in his appearances so far and now he’s ready to open his account. Given that we don’t know the status of Manny and with Kevaughn out, this could be his chance.
Justin Schmidt – Justin hasn’t missed a beat since returning to the lineup. Anchoring the back line alongside Josh Suggs, this defensive core could have their best performance on the year.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
Goals: Kevaughn Frater (10)
Assists: Chris Wehan, Padilla, Frater, Suggs (3)
Saves: Cody Mizell (41)
Bold is another club that suffers from drastically different home and away forms. Austin is winless on the road so fortunately for them the first meeting with United is at home. It’s fortunate for them because on their own pitch, just like United, they are undefeated. With a record of 4-0-1, they’re among the best in the league when on their home turf.
A lot of that success is due to their defensive efforts. I have to give credit to Bold keeper Diego Restrepo who is among the league leaders in clean sheets, with four. A lot of the success can also be credited to the line in front of him. With one fewer match played than United, the Bold defense has only allowed 41 shots on target compared to United’s 58. (Insert obligatory We have the best keeper in the league chant here.) Much like El Paso, Austin likes to sit back behind the ball. Having seen this type of play already United should be more than ready to handle it.
As similar as they are to El Paso, there is a big difference in how they approach the match. Austin doesn’t press as much as other clubs we’ve faced this season. United has taken advantage of that in the past and can do so again.
On the other side of the ball, Austin will need to find the same attack they used against Real Monarchs. The key for them will be getting service to André Lima and Kleber. The duo has a lot of experience between them and they could be disruptive to the younger defense of United.
Players to Watch
André Lima – Tied for the club lead in goals scored, Lima is dangerous when he gets service. The amount of experience he has is vastly more than that of Tetteh and Schmit combined. That experience could see Lima getting himself into dangerous areas and making it a long day for the United defense.
Jermaine Taylor – One of the most experienced players on the Bold roster, Taylor has over 140 MLS appearances. Statistically, he’s one of the best defenders in the league, having made 57 clearances to this point. His leadership and knowledge of the game make him extremely difficult to deal with.
Austin Bold FC Team Leaders
Goals: Kleber, Lima (3)
Assists: Calum Mallace (2)
Saves: Restrepo (26)
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. (Mountain) on Saturday, May 25. 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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