Match 18, Post-Match Edition: Real Monarchs had the advantage from a penalty kick and United was unable to tie up the score.
By Seth Biddulph | July 7, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
This wasn’t the result we were looking for.
I always try to write as impartially as I can, and most of the time that isn’t too difficult. I try to give perspectives on both clubs, but ultimately the focus is on what New Mexico United (6-4-8) has to do to be successful. What makes writing about last night’s match against Real Monarchs SLC (7-6-3) hard, is that the outcome was all but settled by the referee.
Yes, United was outplayed for much of the match. There’s no denying that fact. But when the referee’s decisions directly impact the outcome of the match, there’s a huge problem with that.
Yes, I know it’s on the players to react to what happens on the pitch. Let’s take a look at the events that unfolded during the match.
Douglas Martínez spent enough time on the ground during the first half to warrant four minutes of stoppage. At some point, the referee should have stepped in and given him a warning for simulation.
Martínez was awarded a penalty on a cross that he never had a shot at. The sell on his fall was incredible, and the ref bought it hook, line and sinker.
Ricardo Ávila, who went off with a gruesome injury, left his feet for a tackle and went studs up on Kevaughn Frater. The call from the ref was a yellow card. This was a clear red card situation.
Juan Pablo Guzmán received a red card, this one correct, for a denial of goal scoring opportunity (DOGSO) scenario. My issue here is why in the world was he the farthest person back on the pitch?
The referee seemed to forget that the cards in his pocket and his whistle work for both sides. Many of the calls that RMSLC were getting, the same was not being called in favor of United.
The referee clearly had no control over the match and his decision making was questionable at best. I even think questionable may be too generous. USL has a problem with the quality of its refereeing, and every time we think it can’t possibly be any worse, it somehow manages to outdo itself. We could spend hours discussing just how bad the refs are, but there was some actual soccer that took place.
United very nearly took the lead 30 seconds into the match off of a Daniel Bruce cross. His cross came off more like a chip, and somehow it found open space in the area. If the ball had a little more English on it, it may have found the net, but it just went off the front of the post.
It was clear early on that United were on fresh legs. After 14 days between matches, the side looked rested. Sam Hamilton would pace Martínez stride for stride, making it hard for the forward to find any space. Somewhere around the 15-minute mark though, Real Monarchs took control of the match and didn’t look back. It’s weird to say that while looking at the stats. United led in possession, passes, long passes, and passing accuracy. But none of that mattered.
In the preview, I talked about Santi Moar and his shooting prowess on the season. Santi’s presence was nearly non-existent for the match. With only one shot the entire match, he wasn’t a factor at all. Yes, clubs have focused on him since early in the season, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s more to it.
United would get two more good looks later in the half, both coming from Bruce. In the 37th, Moar would play the ball across the top of the box to Bruce, whose slight hesitation gave Real Monarchs the opportunity they needed to block the shot. He would follow it up with another attempt, this one going just over the bar.
As the half closed, Justin Portillo would deliver a corner into the area which Kaylen Ryden was able to get on the end of. He nearly put the hosts ahead, but his header went just over the bar, grazing it as the ball flew by.
Josh Suggs would make his return to the pitch in the 55th minute and in a show of respect, Cody Mizell ran across the field to pass the captain’s armband back to him. After a lengthy absence due to injury, Suggs returning is something the club has needed. You could see the level of intensity pick up for United as he found his flow.
It was in the 58th that Martínez would go down in the box on the questionable call I mentioned earlier. Maikel Chang would be the one to step up to the spot. Chang would go to the right as Mizell went the opposite way, to put the hosts up 1-0.
As United looked for an opening in the 73rd, Ávila would take down Frater with a dangerous foul in the attacking third. The challenge, which should have received a red card, only received a yellow. After Ávila was stretchered off, Santi would put his lone shot on target, only for it to be saved. United would only get two more shots off before the end of the match, allowing Real Monarchs to pick up their fourth win in a row.
United are now winless in their last five league matches.
Player of the Match
This is going to be a first for my columns here:
Douglas Martínez – I talked about how strong he had been in the weeks leading up to this match and how United would need to contain him. All match long, Martínez was able to find space and create issues for United. He single-handedly made the largest impact on the match.
Four Corners Cup
With the win, Real Monarchs move into second place in the Four Corners Cup table. Now sitting on six points, their hopes for claiming the Cup are very much alive.
For United, their chances took a major hit. In order for United to claim the Cup, they will need to win their final two matches against Colorado Springs and Phoenix Rising.
United are back in the thick of things with two matches next week. First up, the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal against Minnesota United. That match will take place at Allianz Field in Minnesota at 6 p.m. (Mountain) on Wednesday, July 10.
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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