By Seth Biddulph | Photo: BV Photos!
After being outscored 7-0 in their previous two matches, United have to improve and fast if they want to make the playoffs.
So, there was a soccer match yesterday at The Lab. If you hadn’t been there you may not have even noticed it. Despite another strong showing from the supporters, there was a noticeable difference in the mood and audible support as the match got underway.
As they kicked off, New Mexico United (8-8-10) knew they had their work cut out for them. The league results from Saturday night left them sitting in the 11th and looking to get back above the playoff line. Orange County SC (9-8-9) was looking up as well and a win for either club would propel them back up into the discussion for who would claim fourth place.
All season long, United has struggled at times with starting slow and having to play themselves into matches, often not happening until after falling behind. This match was no different. United did have an early chance on goal, but it wouldn’t provide any sort of spark for the club.
Whether it was a result of the oppressive heat or neither club making a mistake defensively, both seemed sluggish and unable to make any headway. It wasn’t until the 23rd that the match began to open up. Michael Seaton had a great chance for the visitors, going 1-on-1 with Cody Mizell. Mizell would come off his line to meet Seaton head-on, and making himself as big as he could, would deny the OCSC forward from putting the visitors on top.
The attempt from Seaton woke up United and Chris Wehan would take charge. Within minutes of each other, Wehan would put two shots on target, forcing OCSC debutant Frederick Due into action each time. On the second attempt, Due made a leaping save as the ball headed towards the top left-hand corner.
After a near-flawless half of defensive play from both sides, the match had the makings of coming down to a tight finish. United appeared to have found some answers, but that would soon change.
Before the players could return to the pitch for the second half, the match was put into a weather delay. The extra rest did no favors for United though.
Beset by yet another slow start, United would concede twice within fifteen minutes of the restart. With OCSC clearly on the front foot, they were able to catch United out of position twice and made them pay for it.
The visitors’ first goal would come from the left. Darwin Jones would play the ball wide to Jerry van Wolfgang, catching Austin Yearwood out of position. With Rashid Tetteh unable to cover, van Wolfgang would easily slot home a right-footed shot.
Moments later, Michael Seaton doubled the lead for OCSC. Harry Forrester would nutmeg Justin Schmidt to find Seaton unmarked in the box. With only Mizell in front of him, Seaton would put the ball into the bottom right corner and all but put the match to bed.
After another weather delay, United would finally show some signs of life in the second half. Despite the improved play and multiple chances, United was unable to convert on any of them.
Failing to secure a result, United slips to 12th in the table. With eight matches remaining, the congestion in the middle of the standings still gives United hope of making the playoffs.
Player of the Match
Chris Wehan – Chris was instrumental in creating many of United’s opportunities throughout the match. His efforts on the defensive end didn’t go unnoticed either.
United are still looking to end their winless skid and the task doesn’t get any easier in their next match. The club returns to action on Sunday, September 8 as they travel to Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma City Energy FC.