New Mexico United (6-4-8) fell to Real Monarchs SLC (7-6-3) and are now winless in the last five league matches. Most of the talk won’t be about the actual result, but about a match marred with poor refereeing and a gruesome injury,
United came in with fresh legs, and Real had lost their coach. United came in winless in their last four league matches, and Real had won their previous three. Something had to give. Unfortunately, it was the refereeing. Throughout the night, there were inconsistencies and poor decisions made by the head referee. By a total of 20-12, United were called for many more fouls, often the result of Real forward Douglas Martínez.
Daniel Bruce came inches away from a goal inside the first minute of play. In an attempt to cross the ball, the arc of the ball carried it into an open area near the far side of the goal. Had there been even a little spin on the ball, it could have found the net. Instead, the ball went off the front edge of the post.
In the opening quarter hour, it was clear that United had the fresher legs. But then things started to click for RMSLC.
Statistically speaking, United would go on to dominate many of the key areas. None of that mattered, however, once Martínez realized that he had the referee seemingly on his side.
Bruce would get a few more good looks after the 35th. The first came as Santi Moar played the ball across the box to Bruce. A slight hesitation gave RMSLC a chance to close down and block the attempt. Moments later, he would get another chance, but this time sent the ball over the bar.
Just before the half, Justin Portillo nearly opened the scoring. His header would graze the top edge of the crossbar, inches from finding the net.
Josh Suggs finally made his return to the pitch after dealing with a knee injury. As he came on in the 55th, Cody Mizell ran across the pitch to give Suggs back the captain’s armband in a show of respect.
Martínez kept finding space as the second half played on. In the 58th he would draw another questionable foul, this time in the box. Maikel Chang stepped up to the penalty spot for the attempt. He would place his shot into the right corner as Mizell went the opposite direction and put the hosts up 1-0.
United looked to even the score in the 73rd with a Frater making a run across the box. Ricardo Ávila would leave his feet and take down Frater with a studs-up tackle. What is typically seen as a red card offense wasn’t called as such by the referee. Ávila would receive a yellow for his efforts, and during the process would injure his right leg. The players and referee immediately signaled for the medical staff, who would carry Ávila off on a stretcher.
During the resulting set piece Moar would but the ball on target, but it would be saved by Ochoa. United wouldn’t come any closer for the remainder of the match, allowing RMSLC to pick up their fourth win in a row.
United are now winless in their last five league matches.
Player of the Match
Douglas Martínez – The Real forward was one of the players to watch this week, and throughout the match he made his presence known. His runs into the final third, his ability to draw fouls and the pressure he put on United’s back four gave Real chance after chance. Even though he didn’t find the sheet, he single-handedly made the largest impact on the match.
Four Corners Cup
With the win, RMSLC move into second place in the table. Now sitting on six points, their hopes for claiming the Cup are very much alive.
For United, their chances took a major hit. In order for United to claim the Cup, they will need to win their final two matches against Colorado Springs and Phoenix Rising.
United are back in the thick of things with two matches next week. First up, the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal against Minnesota United. That match will take place at Allianz Field in Minnesota at 6 p.m. (Mountain) on Wednesday, July 10.
After that, United’s road trip continues as they head to Fresno to take on Fresno FC at 8:30 p.m. (Mountain) on Saturday, July 13.