Everything’s coming up Aces for New Mexico United (6-3-7). After upsetting two MLS clubs in two weeks, the club has extended their current road trip to eight matches. Their performance has garnered the attention of national media, even getting a mention from Rob Stone, announcer for the Women’s World Cup.
Nearing the halfway point of the season, United has undoubtedly become the darling of the USL. All of the attention and their performance has put a target on United’s back. The rest of the Western Conference is gunning for United’s spot in the table. Their recent form in league play can be explained by the busy schedule over the past two months. That doesn’t mean they are happy with the outcome.
United will look to right the ship against a struggling LA Galaxy 2 (4-6-6) on Saturday night. In the win against FC Dallas, Head Coach Troy Lesesne was able to get some of the players some rest, which should benefit the club against Los Dos. There will still be some rotation, but not as much as in the Lights FC match.
Outside of the substitutions, there was another tactical change that should benefit the fitness level of United. In the second half, United changed to a 5-4-1 which allowed the club to sit behind the ball and not expend as much energy. Not only that, but it was a look that hadn’t been shown by United at all this year. The new formation will give upcoming opponents something else to have to try and scheme for.
Ultimately, United has to continue doing what’s been successful for them. Find space by utilizing ball movement and put pressure on opposing players.
Players to Watch
Kenny Akamatsu – with his form improving, Kenny has done a great job platooning with Danie Bruce on the right wing. He needs to be a bit more decisive at times, but he’s making an impact every time he steps on the pitch.
Justin Schmidt – although he’s seemed to be a bit out of form in recent weeks, Justin could really turn it around this weekend. His decision making needs to be a bit better, and he needs to be quicker on his clearances and passes out of the back.
New Mexico United Team Leaders
Goals: Frater (10)
Assists: Chris Wehan (4)
Saves: Cody Mizell (48)
Los Dos has been finding success on the pitch to be elusive lately. 0-2-3 in their last five, and not winning since May 4th, Los Dos can’t seem to find a formula that works. With issues on both sides of the pitch, there doesn’t seem to be any one solution.
During the last three outings, they’ve allowed seven goals while only scoring twice. Kai Koreniuk has been there most effective weapon so far with four goals on the season. Even with his ability, he can’t carry the club. Against a United defense that has been improving every match, he may have a tough time finding the net.
United have the advantage in many different aspects of this match, but Los Dos have a chance. They’ll need to capitalize on what are some fatigued legs for United and wear them out as the match goes on.
Players to Watch
Kai Koreniuk – the leading scorer for Los Dos on the season. Playing out of the midfield, he’ll be a tough matchup for Juan Guzman or Toni Soler throughout the night.
Tomas Hilliard-Arce – arguably the best defender on the side of Los Dos, Hilliard is good at finding the right space to be in. With 60 clearances and 28 blocks, he could be the biggest detriment to the United attack.
LA Galaxy 2 Team Leaders
Goals: Kai Koreniuk (4)
Assists: Brian Iloski (3)
Saves: Justin vom Steeg (23)
The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ beginning at 8:00 p.m. (Mountain) on Saturday, June 22. International viewers will be able to watch the match live on YouTube. ESPN+ is viewable online via the ESPN app or across a variety of mobile and connected living room devices, including Amazon’s Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku and more.