New Mexico United’s season came to an abrupt end against Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday night. United’s first-ever foray into the USL playoffs didn’t go the plan as the club fell 2-1.
The club had expressed a lot of confidence in their ability to go on the road and play well after their Open Cup run. Perhaps it was a bit of overconfidence on their parts. The start of the match was one that will go down in the USL records books, with united scoring in 13 seconds.
Anyone who turned on the match late missed United taking the opening kickoff straight down the pitch and into the box. Santi Moar played the ball in from the left to a waiting Devon Sandoval. Shooting from close range, Sandoval was on target, but his shot took a deflection off of Mitchell Taintor and into the net.
As if the legend of Sandoval couldn’t grow any bigger, now with the first and last goals of the regular season, the first goal in United playoff history would be officially recognized as the fastest in USL Championship Playoff history.
The quick start wouldn’t be maintained, however. Sacramento quickly took control and never looked back.
A stifling press from Republic FC would limit United to only 42% possession and three shots in the first half. For United’s part, they allowed 13 shots to Sacramento, a far cry from the performance on Saturday night against Las Vegas. Though they had some success breaking the press, Sacramento didn’t relent. Their faith in the press caused United to misplay several balls and even sit back waiting for them instead of going to them.
Just before the half, Keven Aleman would jump into a loose ball in the final third and find the equalizer for Sacramento. Despite his best efforts, Cody Mizell was unable to keep the ball out of the net.
Aleman nearly struck again just after the break, putting a shot off the crossbar. For the second time on the night, Sacramento had gone off the woodwork.
Sam Werner, who was a player to watch, came on as a sub late in the second half and made his presence felt. Showing just why he was a danger to opposing clubs, Werner served up a cross that only Thomas Enevoldson could come down with. Shooting from a tight angle on the right of the box, Enevoldson would nutmeg Mizell and put the hosts up for good.
Late attempts from United, who had finally played their way back into the match, were unsuccessful. Daniel Bruce would see a header from close range saved, and Chris Wehan would send a free kick nowhere near anyone as time expired.
Player of the Match
Keven Aleman – much like Werner in the first two matches, Aleman was a headache for United to deal with throughout the night. He kept finding the ball and putting himself in dangerous areas and ultimately found the net.
What’s next for United?
Now that their season is done, the club will look towards the future. According to Transfermarkt.us, every player on the roster is only signed through the end of November. Head Coach Troy Lesesne and his staff will be looking at who they want to bring back for next season, as well as who to target in the transfer market. With only a few months until the preseason gets underway, the players and staff may get a few weeks off before they get back to work and look to improve on their inaugural season.
Photo courtesy Jim Thompson / Journal