It’s fair to say that no one knew what to expect from the first match of the restart. If the level of play seen in the MLS was any indication, supporters were going to be in for some questionable play.
That’s exactly what was on display tonight. Both New Mexico United (1-1-0) and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (1-1-0) struggled to retain possession for the first twenty minutes of the match. Heavy touches and misplayed balls prevented either side from hitting their stride. United’s best shot at goal in the first half came just before the half-hour mark.
Saalih Muhammad would see a chance to play Devon Sandoval into the box, and a through ball gave Sandoval the opportunity to put the ball towards goal. Although his shot was blocked by Switchbacks keeper Sean Melvin, the ball was pushed back towards midfield and straight to Muhammad. Seizing the moment, Saalih lashed a shot on the volley, and with Melvin out of position the ball rocketed into the back of the net.
The goal by Muhammad lit a spark under Switchbacks FC and their offense came to life. Christian Volesky and George Lebese began to make their presence felt as the pressure mounted on United keeper Cody Mizell. Colorado Springs would finally pull back level just before the half. Uvaldo Luna managed to get a shot past Mizell, only for it to clang off the crossbar. With United unable to regain control of the loose ball, Aidan Daniels pounced. Daniels released another shot from outside the box.
His shot would also go off the post, but it took a lucky bounce for the Switchbacks and into the net to pull the hosts level.
With both sides having played off some of the rust from the break, the second half remained tight until the second hydration break. On either side of the break, Colorado Springs appeared to have found a way through the United back four. Austin Dewing worked his way into the box but wasn’t able to put the ball on target. Lebese followed that up mere minutes later and appeared to put the hosts on top. It wasn’t to be, however. The assistant referee ruled that Lebese was offside and waved off the goal.
The momentum appeared to be squarely in the Switchbacks favor, but time and again they couldn’t find the final shot. With the hosts unable to pull ahead, the door remained open for United. In the 87th, Romeo Parkes gained possession in the middle of the pitch and found an open Chris Wehan. A strong run towards the right post opened up an opportunity for Wehan to go back across the face of the goal with a low shot. Melvin dove to his right and managed to get a hand on the ball, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the ball from finding the net and secure the win for United.
Man of the Match
Chris Wehan has earned the Man of the Match honors with his game-winning goal.
The matches continue to come thick and fast as the restart kicks into high gear. On Wednesday, United travel to El Paso to take on El Paso Locomotive FC. That match is scheduled to kick off at 8 pm (mountain).