New Mexico United (3-0-4) couldn’t have asked for a better way to return home. United now sit in second place in the Western Conference, tied with Portland on points, but by tiebreak rules are placed behind them since they have fewer wins.
The club came out energized and played with a high press against Real Monarchs SLC (2-2-2) hoping to disrupt their offensive capabilities. Coach Troy Lesesne addressed this earlier in the week, saying that Real is a club that likes to find their rhythm and if they could be forced out of their ability to do so, United would have opportunities to take advantage of mistakes made by Real. Despite a strong start, it was Real who would strike first. In the 16th minute, Jack Blake was able to clean up a bouncing ball off of a cross from Josh Heard to put the visitors up 0 – 1.
That lead would not last for long, as the match soon became the Santi Moar show. The newly named USL Championship Player of the Month didn’t waste any time showing why he deserved that honor. United was awarded a corner kick in the 24th minute which was played in towards Josh Suggs, whose first touch deflected off of the heel of Kevaughn Frater and fell to the feet of Moar, who was able to bring the home club level.
Only four minutes would pass before Moar would find the back of the net again, this time assisted with a chipped pass from Chris Wehan and was expertly placed past Real keeper, David Ochoa, into the top left corner putting United up 2 – 1. Real midfielder Pablo Ruiz would take a shot from distance in the 33rd minute that was saved by keeper Cody Mizell, who was at full stretch, to keep New Mexico on top. Moar would go on to find the back of the net for a third time in the first half, the first hattrick of his career, in the 39th, again assisted by Wehan. Moar’s right footed shot went through Ochoa’s legs to increase the lead to 3 – 1.
With time ticking down in the first half, the returning Frater made his mark on the match, taking a header from Manny Padilla and powering it into the net putting United up 4 – 1 before the half was over. At halftime, New Mexico was dominating the match holding a comfortable lead and 53% possession.
In the second half, Real was able to swing the time of possession into their favor but was unable to get any balls past the efforts of Mizell. Devon Sandoval returned tonight coming in as a sub in the 75th minute and very quickly made an impact on the match. Taking the ball into attacking third in the 79th minute, Real keeper Ochoa left the penalty area to try and take on Sandoval, which ended up being a costly error as Wehan was able to take possession of the loose ball and open his New Mexico United account with his first goal for the club and bringing the final score to 5 – 1.
The return to Isotopes Park, the returns of Sandoval, Frater, and defender Austin Yearwood gave the entire club a spark. In front of a crowd of 12,327 New Mexico put up their most complete performance of the campaign. Coach Lesesne’s tactics took the most dangerous aspects of Real’s club out of the match tonight by shutting down Maikel Chang and never looked back.
Man of the Match
Santi Moar – with what is, to this point, his best performance of the year Moar continues to show why he is a top talent in the USL Championship. His work rate and ability to find the back of the net are top notch and with his three goals, tonight is averaging one goal per match and is back atop the league leaderboard for goals scored.
New Mexico United will be back on the road next week to take on Reno 1868 FC (2-1-3) on Saturday, April 20.