New Mexico United traveled to Herriman, Utah to play Real Monarchs.
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
United would dominate much of the match and eventually steal 3 points from their hosts as Chelo Martinez fires off a free kick from about 35 yards out in the 83rd minute.
Chris Walker: Here we are for another week of United soccer. This match had its moments of thrill, but it was a slower start. I watched the first 25 minutes intently to see if it would be a “faster” start as Head Coach Troy Lesesne alluded to in last week’s press conference. Chelo Martinez dropped many balls into the attacking half during that first 25 minutes. So it seemed the attacking was better this week. What was your impression?
Josh Kaskinen: I’m not sure if it was just the fact that it was so late in the Eastern time zone on a Friday night at the end of the school year, but at first glance, I wasn’t all that impressed. Going back and watching the replay, however, there were opportunities for New Mexico in that first half. They were winning a lot of deep balls on Tambakis goal kicks, and they were willing to send balls in toward the goal to try to create scoring chances. I do think the early game attacking is starting to come along.
CW: Amando didn’t make the trip so Ilija Ilic made the start. How did Ilija look to? you?
JK: I’m still getting used to watching Ilic and how he approaches the game, but to be honest I’m not sure that it was his best match. Many times he would receive a ball with a nice touch, but either a bad pass or a miscommunication would lead to a turnover. He seemed content to let Sandoval take more of the space in the high areas. Fotmob has the two forwards at 6.5 and 6.3 ratings, the lowest on the team for that match, along with Ryden. I do think Ilic is a great player who has a role on this squad, but I’m not sure that it’s in the starting eleven with Sandoval. I think New Mexico needs more speed up top. I also hope he has a chance to prove me wrong.
CW: Another scoreless first half with a handful of chances. I don’t understand where we are each week that we can’t convert on these chances. Do you think they lost a step without Head Coach Troy Lesesne out there?
JK: You’d always want to have your Gaffer on the sidelines for any match, but I don’t think they lost a step last week. They’ve had trouble scoring in the early game throughout the first part of this season. They seem to be taking a defense-first approach, and even the broadcast team mentioned “building from the back.” The pieces are starting to fall into place. The results will follow.
CW: We seemed to hesitate throughout this match on several instances to collect the ball. All I can chalk it up to is the different roles these players play and the mixing up of lineups. What’s your take?
JK: I think you’re right about that. There are so many new faces and with discipline issues in recent weeks, guys have been shifted around a bit. You could tell which players had that rapport and comfort level with each other, such as Suggs and Sandoval, but other times players aren’t reading the runs or making the passes necessary to keep the attack going. It takes time.
CW: I had seen enough by the 50’ minute. I was ready for a lineup change and shortly thereafter, Brian Brown comes in for Ilic. These two players have about the same impact right now. It seems like we are just lacking some speed upfront. Do you remember your moment for change in this match?
JK: I would’ve liked to see Rivas do a bit more. I did like seeing Brown come into the match, and Bruce shortly after, I just wasn’t ready to see Suggs leave the game at that point. With the backline playing as good as it was, and with no Guzman on the team sheet, the only thing to do was to sub out the attacking players.
CW: Chelo takes matters into his own hands it would seem as he gets a lucky bounce and Monarchs’ keeper was waiting on his teammate Kyle Adams to stop that. Adams visibly expresses his frustration for misjudging the ball and United goes up 1-0. If that wasn’t in I don’t know if we would have scored.
JK: You’re right, they probably wouldn’t have scored other than that at that point in the game. Great ball from Martinez, but I’d also like to shout out Hamilton for tracking the ball well and doing just enough to disrupt Kyle Adams’ vision so that no one gets a piece of that ball. Hamilton has been playing well lately.
CW: What are your thoughts on Lesesne’s comments on the first sheet of the season: “Man it feels great! We’ve been close, knocking on the door in the number of the matches we played. And I think for Alex, the defensive core, the entire group, we’re just thrilled to be able to now get our goal against average under one which is one of the first times that we’ve done that in three years as a club so hopefully we can continue to improve on that mark and more clean sheets to come, ” Lesesne said.
JK: He’s right about the level of play we’ve seen from the backline and Tambakis. He made a couple of great saves to help United earn the three points. It may have been the first clean sheet of the season, but I doubt it will be the last. I also expect that goal against average to remain on the low end going forward.
JK: Has Chelo cemented himself as the main man on set pieces now? He certainly seems to impact games.
CW: I think so, as long as, he’s on his mark. The first matches were rough. The rotation has been Tinari, Rivas, and Azira in there. The only other person who can send in set pieces from the middle third is Harry Swartz.
JK: This Real Monarchs club won a USL title not that long ago. How different is this current iteration of that squad from the championship squad of 2019?
CW: I think it’s vastly different. Although, they still have talent in the ranks and its young, experienced talent. The season is long as they could still gel together in the Mountain Division. Monarchs are certainly one to watch for especially if United can’t maximize their chances.
JK: We’ve got our first repeat opponent of the season on Saturday, as United takes on Austin Bold FC, having already beaten them 3-1 back on April 15. Should the game plan change now that Austin has more film on United? What will it take to get three more points?
CW: if you remember in that match, Chelo was a sub and so was Brian Brown. I would expect to see Chelo in this match against Bold. I think Lesesne just has to slot the right lineup in this one. Sam Hamilton will have to have an impactful game. They will be gunning up his side of the pitch. I think it’s early chances and conversions.