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The Knighted Front: New Mexico United Must Keep Its House in Order

New Mexico United are looking for their first win after going winless for 5 weeks.

By Chris Walker | Photo: Adam Nish

The Axe to Grind

After the match with Orange County SC, it was clear to me that New Mexico United has to address two areas of their tactical pursuit. First, identify the constraint that is affecting chances being created and not completed. Secondly, recognize when and where the lack of communication keeps occurring in the back line.

For several weeks now, the banter on social media is whether Head Coach Troy Lesesne is starting the right XI. Forward Devon Sandoval has come up on many feeds as to whether he is still the right option to start or if he best suited as a reserve in the match day 18.

Social Media feels Sandoval is a constraint in the chance creation to conversion process. This is due to their impression that he is supposed to be scoring a good majority of the goals. They fail to see that he is used as an obstacle, as well as, to be physical and forge an opening for his clubmates.

Lesesne is generally happy with his club’s efforts in chance creation. Though, he recognized in San Antonio that potential chances were being held onto a little longer and eventually led to the ball being turned over.

“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,” Lesesne said. “It’s a group that’s a selfless group they’re looking to open up the best opportunity so that’s their Hello decision in that moment. When you look at it again hopefully if we continue to create those areas we can capitalize on those moments.”

United lost that match 5-0 after losing Saalih Muhammad to a red card ejection twenty minutes into the match. The club still managed to create a multitude of chances being down a man.

In the last match against Orange County SC, United held the score line to 0-0 in the first half. United goalkeeper, Cody Mizell, made some quality saves, which limited OCSC scoring runs in the match. United also created 10 chances and found some of their shots on target early on in the match. Chris Wehan contributed 3 chances and now sits with 47 overall.

Lesesne believed that his club looked great in that match. He acknowledged some challenges that ultimately got the better of his players and states what must be done to win.

“I like the way we played the first 45 (minutes) we did create some good opportunities, and we limited them to maybe two moments in the game,” Lesesne said. “But then the way we came out in the second half, it was a slow start and that’s what I just told the group it’s really unfortunate that at the half time it’s 0-0, and we can’t give up easy opportunities and easy goals like they had. We have to work for ours, we have to earn ours. I think that we give up too many easy opportunities right now and it’s a disservice to what our back four does, what Cody does, and we just have to have a little more attention to detail and concentration in those moments.”

The sequence of how the two OCSC goals were scored really speaks to United’s breakdown in communication. Both goals were give-and-go scenarios were United players were caught out of position and the next nearest player was unable to cover. By United lacking in this attention to detail, it made OCSC’s goal deposit an easy transaction.

Rashid Tetteh has been an asset on the back line. The only area that Tetteh has to adjust concerning his game is to be more confident in his dueling ability. He typically anticipates where he thinks the ball is going to be, instead of playing the ball where it is at. The longer United waits to engage, the more opportunities the opponent will create.

Lesesne believes that they can overcome these moments in the future.

“So, you know, I think we are going to keep putting ourselves in those moments but, the game comes down to eliminating the opportunities that the opponent has because I think if we stay in it 0-0, I think we probably win the game, Lesesne added.”

Lesesne is not giving us a reason to expect Sandoval to be out of the lineup for chance creations to be converted. Lesesne is expecting his players to have focus in these moments and to communicate with each other about what they are seeing.

Head Coach Troy Lesesne on how his club must address OKC Energy heading into this match:

“Defensively from a standpoint that we need to eliminate goals no doubt about it. I think that unfortunately, that has been a regular thing that we’re giving up goals and that we need to look at that a little, Lesesne said.”

“For better or worse, I want to be a team that goes and tries to attack and not only when we attack we try to create opportunities but eliminate teams in transition and I believe in that and I think the whole team believes in that, but we have to fine-tune some areas to eliminate these moments where we give up easy opportunities I think that’s the name of the game, but we can do that.”

Next Battle: OKC Energy FC (9-8-10)

The last time these two clubs faced each other was on June 5 at Isotopes Park. United has gone 2-7-3 since they played. OKC Energy has gone 4-4-5 in its past matches.

OKC Energy FC are currently sitting 6th on the table with 37 points. New Mexico is currently sitting in 12th with 34 points.

Players to Watch

Deshorn Brown, 11 goals

Cody Laurendi, 87 saves (league leading)


New Mexico United at OKC Energy FC

Sept 8 at Taft Stadium at 4:00 pm MT

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