Amando Moreno rejoins United as they attempt to steal 3 points
By Sombrero Man | Alvarado Photo Team
Time for a cross-division matchup! Sunday New Mexico United takes on Tacoma Defiance for the first time since 2019. The last meeting between the squads was a controversial draw at the Lab in October. Due to the COVID shortened season, United didn’t play too many pacific coast teams.
Tacoma is coming off a shocking 2-1 victory of San Diego Loyal. Both teams lost a man in the 88th minute as a double red was shown to Eric Kinzer of the Defiance and Morgan Hackworth of San Diego. Bangers within 15 minutes put Tacoma up 2-1 for good over Landon Donovan’s squad. Looking at the stats from the game San Diego led in almost every category including possession (55% to 45%). But the only stat that matters is 2 goals to 1.
New Mexico is coming off another break after a chippy 0-0 draw with El Paso Locomotive. United lost midfielder Juan Pablo Guzman in the 66th minute after he was shown his second yellow of the night. A combined 37 fouls were racked up between the two clubs (23 for New Mexico and 14 for El Paso).
Players to watch for Tacoma Defiance will be Andrew Thomas, Carlos Anguiano, and Azriel Gonzalez. Thomas was a big reason for the win against Loyal making key saves and putting the normally quick-paced San Diego offense into a slow crawl. Carlos Anguiano scored on a mistake from Jack Blake which put the game on ice. He is very skilled with his boots both scoring and on possession expect a good matchup today between him and Austin Yearwood. Azriel Gonzalez the first goalscorer again scored off a loyal mistake as goalkeeper Trey Muse saved the shot but right into the waiting feet of Gonzalez. Another player that will take advantage of United mistakes if given the chance.
Players to watch for New Mexico United will be David Najem, Amando Moreno, and Andrew Tinari. Najem is back for his second stint with United coming back after playing the majority of the year with the Afghanistan national team. Najem created many chances for United in 2020 and looks to do the same this year. He is also very happy to be back saying earlier this week,” Felt a little surreal getting back into the routine with the guys, but once the rhythm and routine of freedom and game start it’s gonna be like it was last year.” Another face that’s back is striker Amando Moreno returning after an impressive campaign with the El Salvador national team. “A tournament can change my mentality of how I can be better and how I can improve myself, so that’s pretty much it for me, and just the opportunities that I got definitely made me better,”. Amando has been missed dearly as a scoring option in the last five games. Head coach Troy Lesesne said, “’We missed him in those five matches for sure…”. Lastly, Andrew Tinari who all year has been so scrappy and able to get into opposing teams’ heads with his resilience to bounce back right away. The young Tacoma side will have their hands full with a player passionately nicknamed “the English pit bull” by his teammates.
Sombrero’s spin: I really have a lingering question. How will the pitch look tonight? Tacoma’s NWSL side OL Reign beat Racing Louisville 2-0 less than 24 hours ago. The prediction for this match is a 2-1 United victory with Amando Moreno getting a brace in his first match back in black and yellow.
Side note: The Albuquerque City Council meets tomorrow at 5PM on zoom to discuss the New Mexico United stadium bill to see if they should put it onto the November ballot for a vote. You can watch the meeting on the ABQ city council website as well as sign up for public comments on the same website.