New Mexico United (8-5-8) are looking to close out their brief homestand in style. With the club celebrating the first-ever Meow Wolf night, the stage is set for magic to happen.
After a decisive victory against El Paso on Wednesday, the club now sits even on points with Austin Bold FC (9-7-5). Another win tonight, would catapult United into fourth in the Western Conference and potentially close the gap to the top three even more. After a disappointing stretch of league play during June and July, the calendar turning towards August is bringing new life and hope to the club’s playoff push. Two weeks ago the club looked to be on their way out of contention for the playoffs, but the recent form says that they aren’t done fighting by a long shot.
With a two-match win streak propelling United, Bold has a tough matchup ahead of them as they come into the Lab for the first time. Santi Moar took center stage during the first meeting between the clubs, finding the net twice on the way to a 3-1 victory. This time, however, they face a squad at full strength. Chris Wehan has played a pivotal role in the United attack during the last two matches, bending the net three times and notching an assist as well. Wehan has begun to flourish under Head Coach Troy Lesesne, and it couldn’t be happening at a better time. With the cooling-off of Moar, Wehan’s emergence has helped to balance out the United attack and open up more options in the final third.
Not to be outdone, the United defense under the captaincy of Josh Suggs has made visible improvements to their level of play. Just using the eye test, even casual observers can notice the difference in play at the beginning of the season and now. The defensive unit is allowing fewer clean looks on goal and is making fewer mistakes, such as conceding fouls in dangerous areas. Against El Paso Locomotive FC on Wednesday, United only allowed four shots on target, making for an easy night for keeper Cody Mizell.
Players to Watch
Chris Wehan – His performances over the past two matches cannot be overlooked. Wehan and Lesesne seem to have figured out how to unlock his full potential in this system. His intelligence on the field and knowledge of the game has begun to shine, and this is turning into a stellar year for him.
Cody Mizell – Something that gets tends to get overlooked is the management of the game from the perspective of the keeper. His vision of the field and ability to distribute the ball is a major factor in how United controls the pace of play and sets up their movement across the pitch. Pair that with his near sixth sense for shot placement from opponents and Mizell is one of the best keepers in the USL.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
Goals: Kevaughn Frater (12)
Assists: Frater, Wehan (4)
Clearances: Justin Schmidt (75)
Bold FC, though sitting fourth, are one of the worst teams in the league on the road. Six out of their seven losses on the season have come on the road and in those matches they’ve been outscored 14 – 2 while being held scoreless in five of those. Carrying those stats into a fortress-like The Lab gives plenty of reasons for this to be a long night for Bold FC.
Also not helping their cause is the suspension of defender Edson Braafheid. Serving a two-match ban for a red card received while playing against Phoenix Rising FC. The former Dutch international will be missed against the creativity of Kevaughn Frater and Santi Moar.
Bold FC relies heavily on the finishing from Andre Lima. That’s not to say that they don’t have other options, but he’s been one of the keys to unlocking their offense. His last goal came on July 13th against Orange County, and Bold have to find a way to get him looks. Even if they are able to provide service to Lima, he will be in for a tough night trying to find an open look against Suggs and Schmidt.
Players to Watch
Isaac Promise – The lone goal scorer for Bold FC the first time the two clubs met, Promise created mismatches for United throughout the match. He’s a player that will require constant marking. Although he has only scored twice on the year, he has the capability to finish from anywhere in the final third.
Austin Bold FC Team Leaders
Goals: Lima (8)
Assists: Calum Mallace, Kris Tyrpak, Sean McFarlane (3)
Clearances: Jermaine Taylor (92)
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 7:30 p.m. (Mountain) on Saturday, August 3. International viewers will be able to watch the match live on YouTube. The match will also be broadcast live locally on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM and via The TEAM app. In another first for the club, the match will be aired locally across multiple outlets. The following channels will all be broadcasting the match live:
Estrella TV 7.2 (OTA)
Comcast Cable ch. 386
Cable One (Rio Rancho) ch. 28
Cable One (Roswell) ch. 42
DirecTV ch. 442 (National Feed)
Dish ch. 852 (National Feed)