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THE DAISY CUTTER: New Mexico United Wasn’t Good Enough, But They Never Gave Up

New Mexico United fell 0-1 to Loudoun United after 100 minutes of play

Welcome to The Daisy Cutter, a new weekly column from Seek & Strike Collective. This column will take the form of a written conversation between Chris Walker and Josh Kaskinen. Chris and Josh will be discussing any burning thoughts, observations, and questions that pop into their heads during New Mexico United matches from the previous week. In soccer, a daisy cutter is a shot that stays low to the ground. It may seem harmless, but it’s hard-hitting, down to earth, and has the potential to create.

By Chris Walker and Josh Kaskinen

Photo: MacKenzie McElroy

Chris Walker: Devon Sandoval and Brian Brown started up top against Loudoun United. This is the third pairing we’ve seen up top involving each of these forwards. What did you think of this pairing and how did you feel about Head Coach Troy Lesesne choosing Sandoval as the eventual player to come off early in the match?

Josh Kaskinen: I like the pairing. I think the potential is there between these two. Troy likely would’ve liked to give them a longer look together last week, however, he had to adjust for a red card for the second week in a row.

CW: I watched this match from center-pitch and almost field level and that red card on Austin Yearwood does not seem warranted. The only thing I could think of that brought it out was Yearwood’s “it wasn’t me” reaction a few seconds after Kairou Amoustapha hits the ground. At most, I could see the yellow. What did you think about this call and how New Mexico would play at the time being down a man?

JK: I agree with you completely. The red card was entirely unwarranted, as evident by the fact that the league rescinded Yearwood’s suspension. On the broadcast, you see the incident play out very quickly at first glance, so I could see where the ref though there may have been wrongdoing. Immediately upon replay, however, it is clear that Amoustapha was barely touched by Yearwood. I’ll say this about the officiating: It’s incredibly difficult to get a call like that correct at the moment, but I’ve watched a lot of high school baseball this spring, and more often than not, the umpires can confer to get a tough call right before a rash decision. It’s too bad the same didn’t happen last week.

CW: Amoustapha was matched up with Yearwood, Josh Suggs, and eventually Justin Schmidt. He set up the goal that Loudoun scored in the 40’ and continues to be a bother to New Mexico. Was there a better match-up available for us?

JK: New Mexico’s backline has been good, but not perfect thus far this season at containing top-level talent from their opponents. I do think those matchups are solid, but I still want to see what Rashid Tetteh can do. Now that Alex Touche got a few minutes, I believe that just leaves Tetteh and Philipp Biegl who have yet to see the field this season.

CW: What were some of the positives you saw for New Mexico playing down a man and a goal? 

JK: They didn’t quit. They fought for the point and even for the win, but ultimately came up short. When Ilija Ilic came on and nearly scored the equalizer, you could tell that the squad wasn’t just going to give up. It would’ve been nice to get the result, but at the very least they didn’t admit defeat despite the tough situation.

CW:  At times, New Mexico played as though they weren’t down, but there was still some hesitation out there until Suggs stepped up. Comment on his leadership and this seemed to be more of first-year Suggs. 

JK: Suggs is a leader. He’s a representative of the club and the state. He’s willing to do the dirty work and fire up the rest of the guys. There’s a reason he’s one of the all-time leaders in minutes played in the USL.

CW: Coach Lesesne gets a red card. He goes for a jog and his side plays the toughest 20 minutes all season. It certainly unmatched the initial 20 minutes of play. 

JK: You could tell by the reaction of the fans that they felt justified by this. Whatever it was that Lesesne said or did, it seemed as though the entirety of The Curse was living vicariously through him as he jogged off the field. He knew it would fire up his side, but I also think it was more than just a calculated gamble. I think his frustration with the calls and the time-wasting on the part of Loudoun United got to him to some extent.

JK: We saw the quote from Lesesne during the presser about the squad’s play during the first quarter of the match. Did you feel based on what you saw that his quote was a fair assessment of how the team played in those early minutes?

CW: Without a doubt. United usually takes that first 20-25 to figure out their opponent. I thought the Amoustapha matchup with Yearwood would be a challenge. The matchup between Daniel Bruce and Gaoussou Samaké defined the moment. Samaké kept breaking the line on Bruce. When Yearwood got the red card, Harry Swartz came on. Swartz and Bruce shared that responsibility to cover him and Samaké continued to give them problems on the left channel.

JK: Bolivar scored the lone goal of the match shortly before the half. Was it purely a great goal, or could New Mexico have done something differently to prevent it from finding the back of the net?

CW: It was purely a great goal. Amoustapha pulled the defenders and Bolivar was in position.

JK: Unless I missed something from the broadcast, I’m still not sure that I’ve seen a clear replay of New Mexico’s goal that was called back for offsides. How close was it?

CW: I think it was a goal that was taken away from New Mexico. Given the calls into the latter half of the match, I think the wrong call was made.

JK: Talk about the kit game. Everyone seems to love the third turquoise Electric Playhouse kit. In your eyes, how was the aesthetic of that kit next two the red stripe of Loudoun?

CW: The Electric Turquoise kit could become a permanent part of the family after seeing it in action. I hope that we see it more.

JK: The way the USL Championship has been structured, at least pre-pandemic, there hasn’t been much reason for a New Mexico United fan to keep track of the Eastern Conference. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Sammy Sergi is the first ex-NMU player to sign in the East. We are still waiting for the marquee trip to Lynn Family Stadium to face Louisville City this fall, but what are your thoughts on the inter-conference play? Should it stay for good?

CW: I like Inter-Conference play. It gives us some idea of how the West teams stack up against the East. Matchups like Lou City or Charleston Battery wouldn’t happen unless both teams made a deep playoff run. Lou City has put themselves in that conversation making back-to-back Eastern Conference Final appearances.

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