New Mexico United looked to have three points well in hand until the death in Las Vegas. With seconds left to play, Azriel Gonzalez found an equalizer to steal points from United in 2-2 draw.
Heading into the weekend, United had every reason to be confident about their chance to pick up a win against Las Vegas Lights FC. For much of the first half they looked to have the match well in hand, particularly when they took a lead into halftime.
Once again, Eric Quill deployed Daniel Bruce up top and even after full shift only days before, the englishman was dynamic and had several instances in which he pushed the boundaries of what the Lights defenders could handle. Multiple times he worked his way through the defenders, only to see the flag go up against him. His play led to both of United’s goals on the evening.
In the 13th, while Bruce was occupying the central defenders, which allowed Amando Moreno to drive the ball behind him. As he did so, Moreno played the ball wide to Santi Moar who returned it to the forward. Moreno’s run carried him through the defense and he cooly put the ball into the back of the net for the lead, 0-1.
For the hosts, they showed a lot of fight that many weren’t expecting. One of their top performers on the night was former Atlanta United man, Andrew Carleton. At least three times in the first half he was able to threaten United’s goal and forced reactions out of Alex Tambakis on each of them. As the first half came to a close, Carleton’s offering was deflected away by the United keeper, but it fell directly to Pato Botello. Botello skipped around multiple sliding United defenders and tied the match in the 43rd minute, 1-1.
Moments later in stoppage time, Bruce put United back ahead. Both Moreno and Bruce were streaming into the goal area, Moreno, who was off to the right, squared the ball back to the middle of the box. Bruce took a light touch, then drilled the ball home from short range to go back ahead, 1-2.
In the second half, United seemed to lose the sense of Urgency and allowed the Lights to play their way back into the game. The Lights looked better in possession and had the more dangerous of chances throughout the second half of play. In the waning minutes of the match, the Lights even opted to send their keeper forward to try and find another equalizer. After a flurry of attacks, the hosts finally found one in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Tambakis had gotten his hand to the ball a handful of times to keep Lights out of the goal. As with the first goal, the second came off of a parry by Tambakis that fell to the Lights. This time it was Azriel Gonzalez that benefitted. On a volley, he put the ball back into the top left corner of the goal to pull level again, 2-2.
Player of the Match
Amando Moreno – Moreno looked more like himself in this match than he had since before his ACL injury. He was decisive, making players miss, and looked all-around dangerous throughout the evening.
United has one more match this week before they get a short break. Detroit City FC comes to Albuquerque on Saturday, June 8 for a 7:00 p.m. match. Coverage by The TEAM will begin with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pre-game show at 6 p.m., followed by the duo bringing every minute of every game starting at 7.