In each of the prior outings at The Lab this season, New Mexico United looked like a completely different club than they did on the road. Saturday night was no different. The home side come out on the front foot and didn’t let dropping to ten men stop them from pulling out a 2-1 win over visiting Monterey Bay FC.
Early on, United looked as though they had already moved past the letdown in the U.S. Open Cup defeat to Austin FC earlier in the week. Passing as crisp, the energy level was high, and the confidence was overflowing. Whether by design or just taking what the visitors were offering, United tried to play over the top and put several optimistic balls into the final third, forcing the Monterey defenders to turn towards their own goal. Though none of the chances were by themselves threatening, they set the tone for what was to come.
In the 22nd minute, Kalen Ryden once again looked long, only this time he played the ball over the head of the left back, searching for a galloping Josh Suggs. Catching up to the ball just before it ran beyond the byline, Suggs lifted the ball with his left foot and crossed it to the far post. With no small amount of skill, Amando Moreno deftly pulled the ball down with his right foot, turned, and shot while falling down. Though the shot was unsuccessful as Antony Siaha blocked it, the loose ball fell away from the keeper and was free for anyone to pick up. Then came Alex Waggoner, an 18-year-old New Mexico United Academy product from the Santa Fe/Taos area, reacting quickly to the deflection, he was able to tap the ball past the keeper, picking up his first professional goal, and gave United a 1-0 lead.
The scoreline wouldn’t change again until after the second half was well underway. After picking up a yellow card for arguing with the center referee in the 53rd, Sam Hamilton soon found himself under the referee’s gaze again. Coming down hard on the foot of Christian Volesky, the hero of the first match, Hamilton earned a second yellow and a trip to the showers.
Down to ten men, there was some trepidation as to what United would do and whether or not they could hang on for thirty-plus minutes to see out the win. Instead of packing it in, United slowed down the pace and looked for better opportunities to move the ball. They also maintained a level of defensive pressure that kept Monterey uneasy.
In the 59th minute, an overlapping run from Austin Yearwood, seemed innocuous but managed to open up space for Sergio Rivas to get onto the ball near midfield. Rivas, who has shown an ability to make runs from deep in the past, did so again until he caught a glimpse of Amando Moreno getting a step on the back line. A short chip sprung Moreno to drive the byline with the ball at his feet. As he reached the point where he could go no further, he played a backheel to Rivas who slotted home with his right foot to put United up 2-0.
The only goal for the visitors came in the 80th minute as things were looking nearly settled. On the left side of the area, Sean Okoli attempted to either pass or shoot, but the action was deflected by Harry Swartz. In a moment of fortune for Monterey, the ball fell to Adrian Rebollar. Rebollar shot from seven yards out and after what seemed to be a deflection off of Will Seymore, the ball skipped past Alex Tambakis to cut the lead to 2-1.
United’s defending would see out the remainder of the match as the hosts remained unbeaten at The Lab this season and picked up a crucial three points in the Western Conference.
Player of the Match
Alex Waggoner – The work rate of the young man cannot be understated. He tracked back on defense, he worked to get open in the attack. He was opportunistic to jump on the loose ball and collect his first professional goal.
United continues to play on short rest when they travel to Loudoun United FC on Wednesday, May 17. That match will be streamed live on ESPN+. Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman will be on the call with coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. on 101.7 FM ESPN Radio The TEAM, 1017theteam.com, and The TEAM app.