Getting a result on the road is never an easy task.
Over the past three weeks, New Mexico United (2-0-4) have taken five points from three matches away from home. After tonight’s USL matches, United are tied for the conference lead in points with 10 but sit fourth in the table on goal differential.
United were hosted by the winless Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (0-3-2) at H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas before an announced crowd of 3,496. Despite being winless on the season, the Toros presented a tough challenge for United. Earlier in the week, the Toros were loaned five players from their MLS affiliate, the Houston Dynamo. Joining RGV FC for the match were midfielder Juan David Cabezas, keeper Tyler Deric, and defenders Alejandro Fuenmayor, Kevin Garcia, and Sam Junqua. Each of the loaned players were in the starting eleven and all of them, except Cabezas, played the full 90.
The United side was once again without forward Devon Sandoval (ankle) and defender Austin Yearwood (hamstring). Kevaughn Frater was also held out of the match, having suffered a knock during the week. With the injuries, Chris Wehan got the start up front alongside Ryan Williams.
New Mexico started the match strong, with an early shot from Wehan that was saved by Deric in the 5th minute. Less than two minutes later, United would win a corner kick and before play could be restarted, United captain Josh Suggs would go down in the box, after being pulled down by Cabezas, however, no penalty was awarded. The ensuing corner would go unrewarded.
Santi Moar, United’s leading scorer, garnered a lot of attention from the RGV defenders and started to make his presence felt early on. In the ninth minute, Moar sent a rocket that went just wide of the net. His continued runs and pressure on the left side would eventually draw multiple hard fouls from Maalique Foster and Andrew Samuels, each of them resulting in yellow cards.
United maintained the majority of possession throughout the first half and were the aggressors once again, as they had shown in previous weeks. Going into the half, it looked as though United were sure to put one into the back of the net. RGV however, had other plans.
Coming out of the half, RGV looked like a completely different team and were firing on all cylinders, while United looked flat. From the whistle, the Toros attack started to put pressure on the United back four and keeper Cody Mizell. Less than a minute into the half, a shot from Cabezas took a deflect off of a United defender causing Mizell to spring into action and make a diving save. In the following run of play, RGV would miss a shot wide left, and it was very quickly followed by another attempt, this time headed backward over the crossbar and out of play by Justin Schmidt.
The Toros also made a halftime adjustment and started showing a high press more often in the second half. Coupled with consistent play in the United defending third, the Toros did not look like a side that had been held winless on the season. The New Mexico defense, led by Suggs and Mizell, would not give in however and managed to repel each RGV attack. Once the final whistle sounded, United and RGV would each gain a point from the 0 – 0 draw.
United’s first clean sheet of the season was hard earned. Despite having an advantage in time of possession, United trailed RGV in crosses 25 – 6, shots 14 – 7, and corners 7 – 2. As the season has progressed, New Mexico has shown a lot of growth in their defensive efforts and tonight was a great example of what the club can do, and they did it against a lineup that was half MLS players.
Man of the Match:
Cody Mizell/Josh Suggs – Between the two there were two saves, eight clearances, and three interceptions.
New Mexico United finally return home after the three-week road trip to host Real Monarchs SLC (2-1-2) at Isotopes Park on Saturday, April 13.