New Mexico United (6-3-7) had a match to forget against Las Vegas Lights FC (5-6-4). The stats from tonight tell one story, but the play on the pitch tells another.
United had several reasons to be confident coming into the match, the biggest of which may have also been their undoing. With the victory over Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night, United had to feel confident in their level of play. The downside to that victory also played a large role in tonight’s loss. With nearly every starter playing close to a full 120 minutes, rotation and tired legs would factor heavily into the match against Las Vegas.
United came out strong and would have changed to open the scoring. A rocket from Santi Moar in the 19th would be the lone shot on target in the first half. United would come close again in the 28th when Devon Sandoval would put the ball off the crossbar.
Lights FC would be the ones to break through first, however. In the 32nd Javan Torre would put the hosts on top with a ferocious strike from 21 yards into the top right corner.
In the 39th Rashid Tetteh would commit a foul in the box giving a penalty to Lights FC. Cody Mizell’s prowess on penalties would shine once again as he saved the attempt from Christian Hernandez. Unfortunately for United, the ball would rebound right to Hernandez who would put Lights FC up 2-0.
Going into the half, Lights FC did not appear to be missing leading scorer Irvin Parra. Already up, Lights FC Coach Eric Wynalda would bring on veteran Junior Sandoval for insurance. Then, in the 47th, Preston Tabort Etaka would earn himself a couple yards of space near the top of the box and would shoot back across to the left corner to push the lead to 3-0.
Seeking to give the club a spark, Troy Lesesne would bring on Kevaughn Frater and Kenny Akamatsu in the hopes that they could provide it. Shortly after, Kenny would, unfortunately, whiff on an absolute sitter. As the match wore on, the energy for United was clearly waning. At both ends of the pitch United looked sloppy, making poor passes and leaving Lights FC players unmarked.
With less than two minutes left, United would win a corner, and on the resulting kick David Estrada would head the ball home and pull one back. Now down 3-1 and with a glimmer of hope, United pressed on.
Lights FC had other plans though. Edwin Rivas and Junior Sandoval would add two more goals in the 90th and in the fourth minute of stoppage time, to bring the final to 5-1.
Player of the Match
David Estrada – the lone goal scorer for United, David put himself in the right position to make a play on the ball. His header gave United a shot at making a comeback.
United continue their road trip with two more matches next week. The first will be against MLS club FC Dallas on Wednesday night, June 19. Now in the Round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup, United and FC Dallas will face off at SMU with a chance to play the winner between Minnesota United and Houston Dynamo.
Beyond that, United will also be in action in USL league play on Saturday, June 22. For that match, the club will take on LA Galaxy II.
Photo courtesy Josh Lane/New Mexico United