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UNDER THE SOMBRERO: New Mexico United Found Form Last Match, Visits Switchbacks FC

New Mexico United will look to maximize on their latest form versus Switchbacks FC

Sergio Rivas dribbles past an Austin Bold player.

By Sombero Man | Credit: DosPhoto

New Mexico United heads north to Colorado Springs to take on a new era of Switchbacks FC. The new downtown stadium I’m dubbing “Weidner Field II” will open its doors tonight for its first regular-season match. The Switchbacks drew 2-2 with Orange County SC in their only home friendly of the year.

New Mexico United (1-1-1) is coming off their first home game and first win of the 2021 season with a 3-1 victory over Austin Bold. The Lab came back to life after 575 days of sitting empty without United fans. Sergio Rivas, the Cibola graduate, scored the first goal on a volley from Harry Swartz. Next came Jamaican international Brian Brown off a mistake from the Austin goalkeeper Hugo Faroux. As United play-by-play man Tyler Ortega said Brown was “as cool as the other side of the pillow.” The third and final goal came from second-year midfielder Amando Moreno. Moreno headed a cross from Andrew Tinari downward into the back of the net to put the home side up 3-1 for good.

Colorado Springs (1-1-0) comes off a 4-0 victory as well against Sporting Kansas City II. An empty Children’s Mercy Park was filled with goals, two of which came off of penalty kicks. The Switchbacks finished last season with 13 points and a negative goal differential (-9). The new-look Switchbacks hope to establish themselves as a winning side in their new downtown stadium. Historically the Switchbacks have not fared well head-to-head against New Mexico United with an overall record of 1-5-1. 

Players I look forward to watching for Colorado Springs are Goalkeeper Sean Melvin, Midfielder Jose Torres, Hadji Barry, and believe it or not the Springs Manager Brendan Burke.

Melvin is a former-MLS pro playing with Vancouver FC and now-defunct USL side Fresno FC. Melvin also played for the Candian National team back in 2015. The skillset of Melvin will give the strikers of United a few fits. 

Next up is former US Men’s national team player and Liga MX star Torres. Torres who is now 33 is nearing the end of his soccer career but can still be dangerous if left unchecked.

Hadji Barry leads all Switchback players with the two goals he scored last week against Sporting Kansas City II. If he finds form he could be a threat to United’s backline.

Finally Head Coach Brandon Burke. Burke, who led Bethlehem Steel FC to back-to-back USL Cup games takes over the head coaching job this year in the Springs. I am interested to see if Burke plays fast pass with the new stadium opening up or plays the more traditional East Coast offense.

Austin Yearwood wins the duel on the left channel.

Now for United. My three players to watch are Josh Suggs (C), Amando Moreno, and Harry Swartz. 

Suggs, the former Switchbacks captain, has shown his strength in the middle of the pitch during these first three matches. Suggs has proven time and time again that he is the anchor of the defense and will take on anyone who dares to challenge him. 

Next is the USL Championship Goal of the Week winner Moreno. He is riding high not only after scoring his first goal of the season but as well as his first home match at The Lab. Expect Moreno to push hard and create chances in the box. 

Finally, Swartz created a lot of chances for New Mexico’s last match leading directly to Rivas’ goal in the first half. Look for Swartz to help create chances and even some shots on goal. 

Prediction: I expect a 4-2 United victory with goals coming from Moreno (2), Swartz (1), and Devon Sandoval (1). United will christen the new Weidner Field with a victory.

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