Before New Mexico United (8-8-10) even had a chance to step on the pitch this weekend, they had fallen two more spots in the table. Then again, so had Orange County SC (9-8-9).
Although the results from around the league didn’t look promising, a win would have shot United into fourth place in the table. Despite it being an almost do or die situation, United once again started slowly and had to play their way into the match. With the heat bearing down on them, neither side seemed intent on pushing the action for the entire first half.
The result was very few chances from either club early on. It wasn’t until the 23rd when Orange County would put the first real threat on goal. As Michael Seaton bore down on goal, Cody Mizell was quick off his line to meet him. With a tremendous effort, Mizell put himself right in front of Seaton’s shot, denying the Orange County forward.
Chris Wehan would respond by taking matters into his own hands. Within minutes, Wehan would force OCSC Frederick Due into action twice. The first was well-paced but was right to the keeper and the second forced Due to make what may be a save of the week nominee.
With each club playing near mistake-free football for the entirety of the half, it seemed as though United had found some answers to their defensive issues.
The good form wouldn’t last, however.
An extended halftime due to lightning strikes in the metro area caused United to lose any momentum they had been building. As has become typical for the club, slow starts have plagued their efforts to put together a complete match. As play got underway, it quickly became apparent that OCSC was a step ahead of United at both ends of the pitch.
Within three minutes, United was caught out of position twice on the defensive end. The mental lapses gave Orange County the opportunities they needed to take the lead and never look back.
The first would come as Darwin Jones played the ball out wide left to Jerry van Wolfgang. Catching Austin Yearwood out of position, van Wolfgang was able to make a run into the box unmarked. With a decision right-footed shot, he would slot the ball home to put the visitors on top.
Michael Seaton would then double the lead for Orange County. After Harry Forrester nutmegged Justin Schmidt, an unmarked Seaton would take possession inside the box and find just enough room in the bottom right corner to put the ball past Mizell.
After yet another weather delay, United would start to show some teeth in the final third. Increased pressure on the OCSC back line would give United some good looks at goal but ultimately were unable to convert any of them.
Player of the Match
Chris Wehan – Chris was instrumental in creating many of United’s opportunities throughout the match. His efforts on the defensive end didn’t go unnoticed either.
After the loss, United find themselves sitting 12th in the table and looking up at the playoff line. With how congested the middle of the table has been, they still have a very good chance to make the playoffs. Their next opportunity to try and stop the skid will be on Sunday, September 8 as they travel to Oklahoma to take on Oklahoma City Energy FC.