It took three attempts, but Eric Quill finally got his first win as the gaffer of New Mexico United. In front of 9,786 fans at The Lab on Saturday, the Black & Yellow broke a five-match winless streak with a 2-1 win over the visiting Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
Much like the first two matches under the leadership of Eric Quill, United looked strong in the first half, playing aggressively in the opening quarter hour. Three times United found themselves with opportunities to shoot on goal, and although none were threatening, it showed that the club was making a concerted effort to put the ball into the area. In particular, they were looking to involve forward Greg Hurst to try and get him back on the mark.
Although United looked to be off on the right foot once again, the early inability to convert chances seemed as though it would come back to haunt them. The pace of the Switchbacks was something that was going to be of concern for United due to some injuries at the back. Austin Yearwood and Josh Suggs were out with injuries after the midweek match with Phoenix Rising. With two of their more pacey players out, it looked like Maalique Foster and Deshane Beckford might start running circles around the young Mile Garvanian. However, the UNC grad held his own and put on a stellar performance throughout the match.
In the 33rd minute, United had a chance to play the ball down the left wing into an area where Justin Portillo was left all by himself. With plenty of time to settle the ball and find an opening, Portillo crossed the ball to the back post for Kalen Ryden. Ryden’s best option was to put the ball back into the center of the box, hopefully for another United player to get onto the end of. Ryden’s header found Amando Moreno who scored off an audacious bicycle kick to put United up 1-0.
“Amazing goal,” said Coach Quill speaking to Andy Hageman on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM after the match. “I don’t think you’ll see a better goal. We want to dominate the ball whether we’re at home or on the road. We want to make sure we’re being vertical and being dangerous in possession.”
United wasn’t done there. After the break, United would find another solid chance to increase the lead and it took a team effort to get it done. The aforementioned Hurst played the ball up from the midfield in the 48th minute where it took a great effort by Will Seymore to keep the ball in play. Seymore then squared the ball back to the middle of the pitch, where Sergio Rivas seemingly came out of nowhere to pick up the ball in open space. At the same time, Daniel Bruce held up on a run in order to get back onside near the top of the area. Once he was, Rivas put the ball right in front of the Englishman who was able to cooly finish in the bottom left corner to extend the lead to 2-0.
Coach Quill had a lot of praise for Seymore and the entire back four after the match, “At 3-7 we have to do some interesting things with roster rotation. We thought this was the smartest decision based on matchups and what we could do against them. He (Seymore) looked comfortable all night, Sam did too.”
The night wasn’t without some concern though after the Switchbacks were able to cut into the lead in the 71st minute. Getting free on the left wing, Juan Tejada streaked toward the end line with an opportunity to cross the ball in for Aaron Wheeler. With a low, driving cross Tejada forced Ryden to make a play on the ball to keep it from getting to Wheeler. What looked like a normal play, and one that would normally send the ball out of play, ended up with the centerback putting the ball into his own net for an own goal, 2-1.
Earlier in the half, the Switchbacks made four substitutions at the same time, bringing in a lot offensive firepower, including former United player Romario Williams. The injection of fresh legs gave the visitors plenty of reason to hope and they looked dangerous during the final twenty minutes of the evening. Alex Tambakis had some of his best saves of the night during the final moments of the match to give him a total of six for the evening and the 500th of his career, a milestone only reached by one other USL goalkeeper before him.
Player of the Match
Amando Moreno – On and off the ball Moreno had a tremendous night and picked up his second goal in two matches. He was dangerous and looked confident like he hasn’t in some time. The attempts on goal paid off for him and he looked free to make decisions.
United returns to action on Saturday, July 1 against El Paso Locomotive at Southwest University Park. ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM will have coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. (MT) with the pre-game show with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman. The pair will bring you all the latest on New Mexico United as well as every minute of every play once the match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. MT.