New Mexico United gave San Antonio FC their same storyline a week later. San Antonio would not let it slip by this time.
By Chris Walker | Photo: Josh Lane/NM United
San Antonio FC hosted New Mexico United for their second match of the season series. Twenty-two minutes into the match, United went down a man due to player ejection. The match continued and lived up to its full potential, but in the end, SAFC wins 5-0 in front of a crowd of 6,057 at Toyota Field on Saturday evening.
Sword and Shield (New Mexico United, 8-7-10)
The disappointment associated with San Antonio FC, being up one man, letting a 2-0 lead slip away to the Toros of Rio Grande Valley (RGV) was still in the air.
The two clubs played to a 2-2 draw with the momentum shifting to RGV as the whistle drew play dead at full time.
There was a pre-match banter among SAFC supporters as to whether the club could recover quickly from the result or if a cycle of misfortune was in with New Mexico United.
Nearly a few moments into the match, United started their style of play sending the ball to their backline to build-up play. Rashid Tetteh, right center back for United, had possession at the 7th minute and tried to hot-step past Frank Lopez. Lopez jammed Tetteh and SAFC had their first possession on the left channel just outside the 18, but lost possession as the ball traveled out of bounds.
Frustration set in for both clubs as calls were not made by the referees. The blatant calls were overlooked, while the softer calls were directed towards whoever got caught in action. It’s becoming typical in the United Soccer League. Of course, it goes along with the bad acting by its co-stars, the players.
SAFC and NM United traded periods of being in-possession for the first twenty minutes.
The trio of NM United’s Santi Moar, Devon Sandoval, and David Estrada would prove to keep SAFC goalkeeper, Matthew Cardone, busy throughout the night. Each took a shot on the ball until Estrada put the ball into the net on his second attempt.
Offsides. NM United created chances and tried to finish them.
At times, Cardone would leave his stance for the initial save only to be backed up by his backline. The match play appeared to favor NM United as Cardone found himself at the center of an ambush just as soon as United closed down on him.
A set-piece changed his storyline and SAFC’s for the remainder of the evening.
As the kick was taken by Santi Moar, Cardone left his feet for the grab and Jack Barmby was there to shield. Barmby sent Justin Schmidt over the back of a pitch ad board. It appeared that NM United’s Saalih Muhammad didn’t approve of Barmby at the moment and an exchange of words took place. It’s unclear what was actually said to warrant abusive language.
Muhammad didn’t get a caution. He was given an immediate red card and ejected from the match. Muhammad owned his actions at the moment. He didn’t put up a fight with the referee, nor did he contest the call with Technical Director and Head Coach Troy Lesesne.
NM United, now a man down, found themselves on the opposite end of the table trying to eat without utensils. NM United was there to eat and they made it known as they slid into a 4-3-2 with Devon Sandoval and Kevaughn Frater switching in-and-out of the striker role.
SAFC, one man up, embraced the advantage as an opportunity to redeem themselves against a formidable opponent. No team would be able to outlive back-to-back results of the same circumstance.
NM United mounted runs shifting with ten players leaving center backs Tetteh and Justin Schmidt in the back. Left-back, Josh Suggs, who returned to the lineup after serving his suspension one week earlier, oftentimes left his post to set up United’s attack.
SAFC enters the scoreline first as Walter Restrepo dribbles up and shuttles the pass to Cristian Parano. He fired a shot to a shallow corner in goal taking full advantage of the space given to him. NM United goalkeeper, Cody Mizell, was playing on his line favoring the near post when Parano went wide.
SAFC’s mid-season man of the hour, Frank Lopez, tested out the elasticity of NM United’s backline and slipped by Schmidt. No foul.
Moments after SAFC’s Parano storms down the right channel again, leading numbers, he back-trots a pass to Brian Gomez. Gomez doubles the lead taking nearly the same shot from the same spot as Parano.
By half, SAFC finds themselves up 2-0 with a one-man advantage in exactly the same storyline as one week earlier.
Ten minutes into the second half, Mizell is over-committing in the goal. Two goals shot exactly the same way had him flinching early.
Tetteh redeems his bad touch from earlier in the match by putting his body in front of a shot to aid Mizell. Tetteh has stepped into this center back role with authority. He has made the most of the opportunity to stand in that position while Sam has been out.
Suggs created some quality chances off the crosses he served into the box. The only issue is Frater wasn’t there to connect with him. Frater was trying to sell the referees on a pair of fouls that he took within five feet of each other. They didn’t buy it. I didn’t either. It was a bad time to do that.
Frank Lopez broke into the scoreline as NM United keyed in on Parano’s possession. Parano dribbled the ball down in front of a legion of SAFC players and found Lopez down the land. Lopez locked in his fifth goal for SAFC since leaving Galaxy II.
It was 3-0 by this point. NM United hadn’t checked out of this game. Suggs and Sandoval almost broke into the scoreline off of a header. Sandoval ripped a shot on Cardone and Estrada scooped the loose ball and found Moar just out front, but that window closed quickly.
The match was getting away from NM United miss after miss.
NM United started to show signs of hesitation during their time in-possession. Instead of a shot where it made sense to shoot it, they opted to pass the ball around more. They didn’t win as many 1v1 fuels and pretty soon passing started to decline.
SAFC’s Restrepo, assisted by Jack Barmby, took the same wide-angle shot that Mizell had missed two times earlier into the night and made it three times. It was 4-0 by the 66th-minute.
Coach Lesesne rounded out the match sending Austin Yearwood and Tommy Madden in as substitutes for Manny Padilla and Juan Guzman. Guzman has appeared to take a knock.
The regular transition of play continued through the final twenty minutes of the match. Until, Michael Lahoud creates the final chance for Parano, who trots up and fires a shot top shelf into the back of the goal in the 90th-minute. Parano finishes with a brace and two assists.
David Estrada: If it weren’t for an offsides call, Estrada would have put United in the scoreline first. Given the circumstances, Estrada created 3 chances.
Listen up!: (Technical Director, Head Coach) Troy Lesesne
On Saalih Muhammad being issued a red card:
So obviously there was something said right and you put yourself in that position to allow the referee to eject you whether that’s right or wrong that puts us in bad situation so no matter what was said he has to own that, we have to own that and it let it happen again. Because you go down a man against a tough team like for 70 minutes.
On the hesitation to finish chances:
There were some chances where you’re like okay here comes a shot and then a pass was made and nothing really came out of it. It’s a group that’s a selfless group they’re looking to open up the best opportunity so that’s their decision in that moment. When you look at it again hopefully if we continue to create those areas we can capitalize on those moments.
On David Estrada:
Dave, I’m so happy for Dave, it was a very good 90 minutes. And actually before the card happened I thought he looked bigger than life and even dangerous.
Next Battle: (OCSC, 8-8-9)
OCSC convincingly defeated Real Monarchs and earned 3 points at home. The first meeting between New Mexico and OCSC resulted in a 2-2 draw as OCSC drew even in the final minutes of the match. OCSC visits New Mexico on September 1. New Mexico desperately needs to start winning to keep their postseason hopes alive.