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The Etymology of El Matador: The Beginning of New Mexico United’s Run of the Western Conference

Match 13, Post-Match Edition: Tied at 1-1, Austin Bold FC couldn’t convert on their shot attempts in the second half. New Mexico United’s Moar converts on some critical possessions to put his team up 3-1 as time expired on Austin Bold FC. Austin Bold FC drops their first match at home.

By Chris Walker | May 26, 2019 | seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

(Austin, TEXAS) The transformation of Santi Moar to El Matador happened just shy of the 88’ off of a forward pass by Devon Sandoval on a United break into the attacking half. Moar got behind Sandoval’s pass and pushed the ball up the right side of the pitch making some long strides towards the goal as Bold FC goalkeeper, Juan Ramirez, met Moar outside the box. Ramirez lowered himself on his left side into a side-plank position anticipating the shot by Moar. Moar evaded Ramirez by stepping out wide. Just as soon as Ramirez floundered onto the surface of the pitch, Moar fired off a cross body shot off of his right foot into the far backside corner of the goal. United went up 3-1 over Bold FC as Moar saunters over towards the United supporters who traveled to Austin and takes a bow signaling United’s victory in this bullfight.

Perhaps it was due to how difficult of a time United had to break down Bold’s back four throughout the match. In the first half, United exhibited fluid ball movement inside and outside the perimeter of Bold’s defensive shape. Bold kept their defensive shape, which placed restrictions upon United in taking any clear shots on goal. United kept the ball on Bold’s half winning the clearance battle early on. During the 28’ Ryan Williams serves up a long pass to Moar in the flat just short of the Bold back four. Moar and Bold’s Seth McFarlane match up 1v1 moments before Moar inches past McFarlane and fires off a cross body shot in very tight quarters. The ball actually bangs off of Bold’s Amobi Okugo for an own goal score to give United the 1-nil lead in the first half. Bold’s presence on United’s half is very scarce. Though some of Bold’s cross play left balls hanging in the air for quite a while causing United’s goalkeeper Cody Mizell to make some costly last-minute decisions playing the ball back into Bold’s possession.

During the second half, Bold’s Seth McFarlane finds Isaac Promise in the air off of a cross pass to the high center of the goal. Many aerial duals went in Bold’s favor during the match. United have played well against teams averaging high cross play percentage. Bold’s press into United’s half created more opportunities for Bold players to serve the ball into the box from the air. United had seemed to back-off from their defensive press allowing Bold to play the cross more frequently. The turn of this match was the physical play between both teams. In the 62’, Moar scores United’s second goal off of a free kick awarded from a Bold foul made by Okogu on Williams in the attacking half. Moar’s shot is made into the backside right corner of the goal after two deflections, the player wall, and Ramirez’s fingertips.

McFarlane won a critical 1v1 duel with Moar that set up an opportunity for Bold to equal out the score but play was stopped when Bold’s Andre Lima collided with Mizell in the box. The strategy to increase physical play worked against the Bold as Fabian Garcia gets a red card in the 72’ for taking down United’s David Estrada from behind just outside the box on the attacking half. United’s Rashid Tetteh served up a long pass to Estrada and Garcia, acting out of desperation to prevent United’s third goal of the evening. Down a man in a 2-1 match, Bold’s presence in the attacking half didn’t let up as they demonstrated a clear sense of urgency to even out the score. United put this match out of reach by finishing just as they started with patient ball-handling, keeping their shape, fluid ball movement, and taking high-percentage shots.

United’s ability to endure in these hard-fought matches is attributed from their chemistry to mesh well as a team when key players are departed from the matchday 18. Several matches we have witnessed new players put balls in the net. The resurgence in this matchup with Bold FC, however, was orchestrated by Moar’s return to the team after a one-game suspension. Moar was hungry and his all-out style of play ultimately cued the arrival of El Matador. The Western Conference has a new threat if Moar continues this heightened-level of play. 

Upcoming matches for New Mexico United:

Wednesday, May 29, Colorado Switchbacks FC play host in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match.

Wednesday, June 5, New Mexico United host visiting OKC Energy at Isotopes Park.

Photo 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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