After picking up a crucial point in San Diego on Sunday, the magic number for New Mexico is four. Four points are all that separate United from returning to the playoffs. The club has a chance to secure that spot on Wednesday, but they have to overcome LA Galaxy 2 and they need help from Tampa Bay.
LA Galaxy saw their playoff hopes come to an end on Saturday after losing to Atlanta United 2, 3-1. All they can do now is play the role of spoiler. There’s no telling how Galaxy 2 will line up on Wednesday against United. Not much was shown last Wednesday before the match was declared void due to the pitch conditions at The Lab. Preston Judd has been one of the brightest spots in the season for Los Dos and will present a similar challenge to that of Danny Trejo. Judd is a player that can get into dangerous positions and force defenders to face their own goal. Though he will likely be with the MLS side in the near future, Judd still can lead a potent attack to close out the season.
Player to Watch
Tsubasa Endoh – A late-season signing, Endoh made an immediate impact for the Galaxy. In his debut for the club, he notched a brace. He is an experienced player who can play out wide or serve as a second striker. His inclusion in the eighteen would give Zach Prince something else to worry about.
United still has an outside shot at earning the fourth seed in the West before the regular season ends. While that possibility isn’t entirely in their hands, none of the possible outcomes are. If United picks up a win against LA 2 and El Paso drops points to Tampa Bay, the spot will be secured. If El Paso wins, United still needs a result on Saturday against Colorado. Even with a win, it may take until Saturday evening to know the final seeds each club will fall into due to the matches left to play.
For their part, United stepped up on Sunday and earned a point in San Diego. In the 3-3 draw, it was the first time since August 20 that United had scored multiple goals in a match. It was also the first time they had scored three or more since the 7-0 win over Phoenix in May. It was a much-needed offensive display, particularly from Amando Moreno, who notched a brace. The issue was that the defense surrendered the lead twice in that match preventing United from picking up all three points. After a stellar showing against Las Vegas, the play was underwhelming. They will have to be better in the remaining two matches if they want to keep the season alive.
Player to Watch
Amando Moreno – Moreno was outstanding in his return to the place where he tore his ACL just under a year ago. He was creative in the attacking half and picked up two goals for his efforts. He was also solid dropping back and provided a much-needed spark for United. After playing the full 90 on Sunday, it will be interesting to see how much time he gets on Wednesday, but he will be needed.
Wednesday night’s match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (MST) at The Lab in Albuquerque. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+ domestically and on YouTube for international viewers. Locally the match can be heard on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, via The TEAM app, and The TEAM website.