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Front & Centre: NM United must refocus on the goal in hand, winning matches

Match Preview: NM United vs. Real Monarchs

By Chris Walker | Photo: El Paso Locomotive FC

2020 USL Championship Season – Week 12 (September 12, 2020)

NM United vs. Real Monarchs at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah

Kickoff at 12:00 pm MT, TV: Estrella TV, Stream: ESPN+ (Requires Subscription) 

Radio: ESPN Radio 101.7 The Team, En Espanol: La Zeta 106.3 FM

Head-to-Head Series: 3-1-0 (W-L-D)

USL Championship Regular Season | 04.13.19 NM 5:1 RM W

USL Championship Regular Season | 07.06.19 RM 2:1 NM L

USL Championship Regular Season | 08.19.20 RM 0:2 NM W

USL Championship Regular Season | 08.22.20 RM 1:2 NM W

Summary of Previous 2020 Matches

United had won 1-0 at Colorado Springs on Saturday. They were now poised with traveling to Herriman, Utah to attempt to earn 6 points from two matches that were three days apart. If they did this, they would ultimately be on a 3-match win streak and earn 9 points in 8 days. They completed their mission. Here’s what happened in each match to bring you up to speed. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020 – Monarchs 0:2 United

United earned a clean sheet winning 2-0 on a night where Wehan did not see the pitch, Kalen Ryden and Amando Moreno scored for United. The lineup had some zest to it as David Estrada made the start in at right-winger and it proved to be a special night for him as he earned 2 assists. United looked in control that night despite 36-percent possession, which means the defense had more work than usual that night. Monarchs were very limited on shots so the middle third worked the hardest. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020 – Monarchs 1:2 United

United earned its second win in three days. Chris Wehan returned to play after sitting out on Wednesday. In a press conference days later, Technical Director and Head Coach Troy Lesesne admitted to media that he purposely sat Wehan to rest him and that Wehan wasn’t too happy about it because of the responsibility he felt he had to help the team win. As stubborn as Wehan was about it, as United went up 2-0 he eased into better and felt less pressure to be in. This set up Saturday evening wherein less than 5 minutes into the match, Wehan is taking a set piece from outside the 18-yard box that drops faintly on the front boot of Moreno and scores as United take a 1-0 lead. At the start of the second half, United went on a front strike as Ryden sent a long pass up to Josh Suggs. Suggs looked to pass it to Wehan, but that was intercepted by a Monarchs’ player and it took a bounce at Wehan’s foot. The kick was stellar as it was practically a half-volley teed up for Wehan to rocket it to the ribbing of the goal. Possession on the night was 60-percent United and 40-percent Monarchs. Monarchs ruined the clean sheet when Ryan Sierrakowski chipped a very high ball out of reach on United’s goalkeeper Cody Mizell. There really was no threat from Monarch from this point as United kept them out of dangerous spaces. 

Preview: Real Monarchs

Monarchs are on a 2-match win streak. They defeated Tacoma Defiance 1-0 and more recently, Colorado Switchbacks 4-1. Monarchs were down 1-0 to the Switchbacks before answering back with 4 straight goals. Monarchs scored on a breakaway, corner kick, a 4-touch pass open play, and a free kick that went around a wall. 

Monarchs took 17 shots and only 5 were on target so their shooting accuracy was 29.4 percent. Switchbacks took 6 shots and 4 were on target so their shooting accuracy was 66.7 percent. Monarchs took shots from inside and outside the box to keep Switchbacks guessing throughout the match. 

Injury; Luke Mulholland

Preview: NM United

New Mexico United came out in a high press against El Paso Locomotive. Though Locomotive figured out how to counter early on. United scored off a failed corner kick taken by Dylan Mares. David Estrada tipped the rebound over to Chris Wehan, who sent a cross pass out in from of Amando Moreno. Moreno added some footwork to re-route Locomotive’s Mechack Jerome as he crossed a pass to his left that Estrada kicked into the goal. United went up 1-0 after 12 minutes into the match. Locomotive would even the score up in the 25’ minute when Dylan Mares took a corner kick and Macca King headed into United’s goal. United would once against take the lead in the 40’ minute after Amando Moreno was awarded a penalty kick. Moreno deferred to Devon Sandoval, who sunk the shot into the middle of the goal. 

The second half belonged to Locomotive who had 3 corner kicks and 3 free kicks in dangerous territory. United conceded an own goal by Austin Yearwood. Yearwood was trying to clear a ball coming towards goal and kicked it into United’s goal. Locomotive pulled ahead in the 88’ minute as Omar Salgado dribbled in from the left-wing and just as soon as he had the attention of United defenders, Salgado dumped the ball off to Mares, Mares puts the goal in the net for the goal. 

Locomotive took 21 shots with only 4 being on target for a 19 percent shooting accuracy. United took 8 shots with 5 being on target for a 62.5 percent accuracy. 

Injury: Justin Schmidt 

3 Things That Mattered vs. Locomotive

Favorite Player: Amando Moreno

Here’s what you’re saying from last week’s post match survey:

“He’s consistent”

“He’s is a selfless playmaker who plays with heart and it shows match after match.” 

“He came to play, he brought energy” 

“He makes stuff happen.” 

“He’s always pushing and probing”

“Only threat and consistent” 

My thoughts: Amando Moreno has been involved with the scoreline for the past 8 weeks. He has 4 goals and 4 assists. It’s going to take more than Moreno for United to win. Chris Wehan has been non-existent and that is not a good thing for this side.

Where Things Fell Apart For United Last Time Out

Here’s what you’re saying from last week’s post match survey:

“Defense”

“Road fatigue is the 12th man they are battling.” 

“Possession, we let ELP hold the ball too much in our half.” 

“Our inability to clear the ball and retain possession and counter was non-existent after 20-30 mins and our guys look very tired.”

“Backline”

“2nd Half passes, intensity, consistency were all worse than 1st half.” 

My thoughts: The first 10 minutes of the 2nd half belonged to El Paso. The clearances from United resulted in corner kicks and foul conceded in their defensive half results in set pieces that gave Locomotive the opportunity to score.

The Areas United Improved In This Match

Here’s what you’re saying from last week’s post match survey:

“They didn’t get any red cards”

“The in-game adjustments were slow to come in the 2nd half.” 

“There were not too many improvements in this game” 

“Early counters.”

“Communication up to keeps improving game after game.”

“Distribution out of the back, the ability to absorb pressure.” 

My thoughts: United struggled to close out this match. It’s evident in how much presence Locomotive had in their defensive half. Their own goal may have let some wind out of their sails because it made both sides equal and Locomotive was looking hot in the second half. United was tired and the adjustments being made did not add to the attack.

How Can United Win?

Chris Wehan must shake the slump. He came out initially and took the reigns. It has been nice to see it not be all about Wehan as more players would eventually step up like Daniel Bruce, Amando Moreno, Romeo Parkes, and so on. But at the same time, Wehan faded out these last 2 matches and it’s quite obvious when broadcasters are highlighting him and meanwhile on the pitch, its Moreno that is trying to stir up the attack. In order for the attack to be potent, I believe we need Wehan back in form, steady contributions from Moreno, and it still wouldn’t hurt to see more shooters. 

United are too concise at times. They take shots that are on target. This sort of attack doesn’t develop quickly for them and other teams feed off of this. If United could increase the number of shots they attempt and keep the quality, it would help them. I am suggesting that United take a couple of low percentage shots every once in a while and look for the second balls of chance. 

When it comes to the backline, United has to decide on defending the corners and set pieces better than they have been doing thus far or focusing on retaining possession from their clearances. To simply clear the ball out of bounds and then let in goals from a corner or set piece does not improve the quality of the product they have out on the pitch. 

It’s going to take a full effort and a full 90 minutes from United.

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