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Match Preview: NM United v LA Galaxy II

By Seth Biddulph | June 22, 2019 | seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

As I sat down to write this preview, I realized that we’ve spent a lot of time talking about inaugural this and inaugural that. Yes, it’s New Mexico United’s (6-3-7) inaugural season. I think it’s safe to move on from that and treat this the club like they deserve.

The season is fast approaching the halfway point and United already has two “player of the month” awards, a coach of the month award and multiple players of the week awards. It’s all because of the man in charge, Troy Lesesne. For a club that’s only been in existence for a year, things couldn’t be going much better.

United currently sits the top of the table and in the final eight of the Open Cup, United has taken the USL by storm. With Kevaughn Frater and Santi Moar both in contention for the Golden Boot race, United is charging forward. Despite recent setbacks in league play, the clubs Open Cup form is giving supporters plenty of reasons to be optimistic. In their most recent match against FC Dallas, Lesesne pulled a new trick out of his bag.

During the second half of the match, United went to a 5-4-1 formation and kept FC Dallas from sniffing the goal. Even with the disparity of possession, United maintained a solid form and pulled out the win.

This road trip has now turned into an eight-match marathon. The next stop for United is taking on Los Dos.

United have a real chance at gaining back some of their lost ground in league play. Since the Open Cup match ended in regular time, some of the regulars were able to be subbed out and hopefully were able to rest ahead of the match on Saturday. United needs to take advantage of the things they’ve learned in Open Cup play and work it into their league play.

Continue to move the ball and put pressure on their opponents. We saw that pressure cause some mistakes from FC Dallas and it can be even more effective against Los Dos.

Players to Watch

With more rotation expected this week, we’ll see more of the subs get chances.

Kenny Akamatsu – with his form improving, Kenny has done a great job platooning with Brucey on the right wing. He needs to be a bit more decisive at times, but he’s making an impact every time he steps on the pitch.

Justin Schmidt – although he’s seemed to be a bit out of form in recent weeks, Justin could really turn it around this weekend. His decision making needs to be a bit better and he needs to be quicker on his clearances and passes out of the back.

New Mexico United Team Leaders

  • Goals: Frater (10)
  • Assists: Chris Wehan (4)
  • Saves: Cody Mizell (48)

LA Galaxy 2 (4-6-6), or as most call them Los Dos, have been struggling. 0-2-3 in their last five, Los Dos actually haven’t won since May 4th.

It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly their issues are other than to say that they need a lot of help. Defensively they’ve allowed seven goals in their last two matches and have only scored twice in the past three.

Their best chance for a win is to get the ball to Kai Koreniuk. He’s definitely at his best when he can get the ball on his left foot, so United will have to try and take that away from him. United should have advantages across the pitch in terms of ability and vision, but Los Dos could find an upset if they can take advantage of United’s tired legs.

Players to Watch

Kai Koreniuk – the leading scorer for Los Dos on the season. Playing out of the midfield, he’ll be a strong matchup for Juan Guzman or Toni Soler throughout the night.

Tomas Hilliard-Arce – arguably the best defender on the side of Los Dos, Hilliard is good at finding the right space to be in. With 60 clearances and 28 blocks, he could be the biggest detriment to the United attack

LA Galaxy II Team Leaders

  • Goals: Kai Koreniuk (4)
  • Assists: Brian Iloski (3)
  • Saves: Justin Vom Steeg (23)

The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain) on Saturday, June 22. 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.

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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