By Seth Biddulph | June 19, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Can they do it again?
That’s the question being asked by those following New Mexico United’s run through the Open Cup. Some are calling it a fairy tale, others say it’s nothing short of improbable.
But for those who are familiar with the club, their success has come as no surprise. Technical Director/Head Coach Troy Lesesne has put this team together. He personally selected veterans and rookies that he felt would work well together. Some of these men have been coached by Lesesne in earlier years. And this club has taken not only the USL but also the Open Cup by storm.
As one of two remaining USL clubs in the Open Cup, United, along with St Louis FC, is carrying the hopes of the previously eliminated clubs with them. Other clubs have even publicly stated that they are rooting for United as they continue on.
The tables and history are stacked against the lower division clubs. No club outside of the MLS has won the Open Cup since 1999 when Rochester Rhinos defeated Colorado Rapids. Since then, the farthest any club outside the MLS has advanced in the semifinals, which FC Cincinnati accomplished in 2017.
Having already upset Colorado Rapids, an MLS club, United are facing yet another road match. On Wednesday, United’s chances of advancing hinge on a matchup with MLS’ FC Dallas.
United has certainly made the Open Cup a focal point of this season. Over the past couple of weeks, Lesesne has put out his strongest team sheets during The Cup. We shouldn’t expect anything different against FC Dallas. Even though we’ve seen different formations throughout the season, the basics of our game plans haven’t changed. United wants to control the time of possession and create space on the wings for Santi Moar.
Against Colorado Rapids, we saw Daniel Bruce get the nod across the pitch from Moar. Bruce was able to get into the head of the Rapids defenders and had his best showing of the season. Brucey came close to opening his account with the club and he’s poised for a breakthrough.
United will most likely be without Josh Suggs again, but the performances of Justin Schmidt and Sam Hamilton have helped deal with his absence. They may be going up against one of the up and coming U.S. stars, Ricardo Pepi. On loan from North Texas SC, the 16-year-old forward played the full 90 minutes against OKC Energy and could be a threat to United.
Players to Watch
Kevaughn Frater – After scorching Colorado Rapids with a stoppage-time equalizer, Frater showed exactly why he’s the USL scoring leader. He’s getting service in space and his finishing is on point.
Ethen Sampson – Sampson will be relied upon to help handle the Dallas forwards. I think he matches up well with Dallas defensively and on the other end, he’s improved at picking his spots to deliver the ball.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
- Goals: Frater (10)
- Assists: Chris Wehan (4)
- Saves: Cody Mizell (48)
Like most of the clubs United has faced this year, FC Dallas has struggled to score at times. Jesus Ferreira has been their leading scorer, netting four goals on the season. But, he’s not expected to play. In his place, we may likely see Pepi get another start.
FC Dallas has a deep roster just like the other MLS clubs. Even with their depth, Dallas will be missing the talent of players like Reggie Cannon, Bryan Acosta, and Carlos Gruezo, who are all on international duty. This could be an opening that United could take advantage of.
It will be interesting to see just how seriously FC Dallas takes this match. Colorado Rapids was taking it seriously, but post-match statements came out that said they were here to win MLS Cups, not Open Cups.
Players to Watch
Pepi – the youngster has made an impact in his time worth North Texas FC. Enough of one that he was given a short term loan to FC Dallas. Without scoring a goal, he looked good in his debut match.
Jimmy Maurer – Dallas’ second string keeper put together a clean sheet against OKC. It’s highly likely that he will get the start against United and it will be a true test of his abilities.
FC Dallas Team Leaders
- Goals: Ferreira (4)
- Assists: Michael Barrios (5)
- Saves: Jesse Gonzalez (37)
- Chris: 3-3 AET, United advance on PKs 4-5
- Josh: 3-1 FC Dallas
- Alicia: 1-2 United AET
- Seth: 3-2 FC Dallas
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:00 p.m. (Mountain) on Wednesday, June 19. 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. The match will also be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team and can be streamed on http://www.1017thetea
Photo Credit: Adam Nish/Seek & Strike Collective
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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