By Seth Biddulph | June 20, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
They’ve done it again.
Four U.S. Open Cup matches on the road. Four wins. Two wins over MLS clubs. The latest to fall victim to New Mexico United was FC Dallas.
It’s undeniable at this point, United’s inaugural season has become one of legend. The expansion club is sitting near the top of the table in USL Championship. They are also advancing to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. It almost sounds like a Disney movie. All that’s missing is the trophy.
At the rate that United is going, there could easily be a trophy by the end of the season.
They’re being called road warriors, the Cinderella, the upstarts. Though the club itself is new, the roster is full of veterans. And that veteran leadership was on display tonight in Dallas.
United took to the pitch tonight with the same eleven that defeated Colorado Rapids one week ago. We here at Seek and Strike has some concerns about our fitness level coming into the match. Against Colorado, many of the starters played the full 120 minutes and then played again on Saturday. Head Coach Troy Lesesne knew that rotation would be key, and did everything he could with the limited roster at his disposal.
Minutes into the match, Kevaughn Frater nearly equaled the opening goal from last week with one of his own. Frater pushed high up onto the pitch, nearly forcing FC Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer into an early mistake. Despite the early attempts, neither side would really come close for the first half hour.
As the game clock hit thirty minutes, the action started to pick up with Dominique Badji finally getting a couple of shots on target for the hosts. Devon Sandoval and Justin Schmidt would link up in the 35th on the left wing. After a long run, Schmidt would smash the ball off the near post just inches from putting United up.
FC Dallas wasn’t done yet. After having two more shots saved by Cody Mizell, Brandon Servania would send an absolute missile inside the far-left post and putting the hosts up.
Their lead would be short lived though. As the half was coming to a close, both Santi Moar and Frater would find the way into the FC Dallas box. A chip from Moar was deflected by Mauerer, the ball found its way to a waiting Frater. Playing the ball off his chest, he would put home a blast from his right foot to pull United level just before halftime.
The match to this point felt closer than what the stats showed. USOC showed only a 40% possession rate for United, but the play on the pitch didn’t seem that way.
Coming out of the break, neither club made any immediate changes to their eleven on the pitch. Even without them, it didn’t take long for FC Dallas to push into United’s defensive third. After shots from Servania and Bryan Reynolds didn’t find a home, FC Dallas pulled their newest loanee, Ricardo Pepi, after being almost completely ineffective. His replacement, Paxton Pomykal, would make an immediate impact. However, almost immediately after coming on, Pomykal drew a foul, and a yellow, for Frater.
This is significant because the yellow was a third of the tournament for Frater. Due to Open Cup accumulation rules, he’ll have to miss the match against Minnesota United.
United would respond by going ahead once again. After Frater drew a foul on the right side, Chris Wehan lines up to take the kick. With a great delivery, the ball would bounce around inside the box until finally, Sam Hamilton could corral it. His second goal on the year couldn’t have come at a better time.
Over at the Salt Yard time slowed to a crawl for the final 30 minutes of the match. Back and forth action accentuated the remainder of the half, with each side looking for at least one more goal. With the lead, Lesesne went defensive with his substitutions. By bringing on Saalih Muhammad, Rashid Tetteh and Manny Padilla the formation switched from a 4-4-2 to a 5-4-1, something that we haven’t seen United do at all this year.
The change paid off for Lesesne and United. After six minutes of stoppage time, it was finally over. United had advanced to the quarterfinals.
Player of the Match
Kevaughn Frater – his work rate on the night and his leg, gave United the edge they needed. Picking up the yellow does hurt United, but he will be able to help the club prepare.
- The announced attendance of the match was 1,424.
- Ricardo Pepi was one of our players to watch. After a solid performance against OKC, he disappeared for FC Dallas tonight.
- Kevaughn Frater now has 4 career goals in Open Cup play.
U.S. Open Cup
- In other Open Cup action, all but one of the Round of 16 matches is in the books.
- Saint Louis FC defeated FC Cincinnati 1:0
- NYCFC defeated D.C. United 2:1
- Orlando defeated New England 2:1
- Portland topped LA Galaxy 4:0
- Atlanta United defeated Columbus Crew 3:2
- Minnesota United defeated Houston 3:2
- The only remaining match at this point is LAFC hosting San Jose.
- With United’s victory tonight they advance to take on Minnesota United. That match will take place on July 10 at Allianz Field in Minnesota.
United still has one more match this week. On Saturday, United will be in LA to take on Los Dos. The match is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. kickoff.
Photo 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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