In a sport where pundits talk about making the most of the chances created, New Mexico United’s first half left something to be desired. They corrected that though and closed out the game with an Alex Waggoner header to defeat Detroit City FC, 1-0.
United has been resurgent under new Head Coach Eric Quill and they came into the weekend having won two of three and were on the verge of jumping back above the playoff line. Early on Saturday night, it appeared that United was going to be unstoppable against one of the best defensive clubs in the league.
Even Coach Quill was left scratching his head at times. “It was a weird one. It was. We came out guns blazing. It was probably one of the biggest expected goals (totals) I’ve ever seen in a first half. I mean, it was like four or five clear cut chances that had your head scratching. Not one went in. And the scary thing is, I’ve seen a lot of games like that where you come away with the loss. Sometimes it gives you a false sense of security that you have the game in-hand. And so I credit the guys, with the mentality to stay in it because it wasn’t the second half. It kind of became dull. We didn’t really have much in the game. And then obviously you bring on subs, you wanted to raise the level and these two guys in my left and right raised the level of the game and gave us hope. And then (Waggoner) scores a great goal. I’m just extremely proud of him and that mentality because it’s been a couple of games since he stepped on the field for us. So to come on and change the game like he did at his age says a tremendous amount about who he is as a player.“
United was easily the better of the two sides the entire first half. Within the first thirty seconds of the match, Daniel Bruce forced a save out of Detroit’s keep Nathan Steinwascher. He would put another shot in that was cleared off the line inside of the eleventh minute as well.
Steinwascher was again tested in the 27th by Kalen Ryden, and again in the 28th by none other than Bruce. Bruce’s attempt was his second of the night from close range, this one was a thundering header that went off the face of the crossbar. A few inches lower and Bruce would have been in. United seemed to do no wrong in the first half, even getting a yellow card shown to Detroit’s Maxi Rodriguez for simulation.
The visitors had to feel good about the scoreline going into the half having been thoroughly outplayed in the first half. With that confidence flowing, they were a lot more comfortable in the second half and forced United keeper Alex Tambakis into frequent action. They were building momentum and beating the defense of United time and again, but couldn’t find the mark.
It wasn’t until the 82nd that United was finally able to hit paydirt. Amando Moreno worked his way from the left side of the pitch into the middle and found a through ball for none other than Bruce. Running to the right side of the goal area, Bruce dragged defenders with him before chipping a cross to the far post. At the other end was 18-year-old Alex Waggoner. Unmarked, Waggoner posted up under the ball before heading it into the bottom left corner for the lead, 1-0.
Detroit would only get one clear chance at an equalizer with Yazeed Matthews’ header in the 85th, but Tambakis was able to easily handle it and close out the win.
Player of the Match
Daniel Bruce – What more can be said about the man? He’s in the best form of his career since joining United in the inaugural season and has flourished under Coach Quill. Another assist to his name and he keeps climbing up the all-time rankings for the club.
After six matches in twenty-one days, United finally has a bit of a break coming their way. Their next match doesn’t come along until Wednesday, July 19, but it’s a big one. For the first time ever, United will host an international friendly at Isotopes Park when Sunderland AFC of the EFL Championship visits New Mexico. That match is set to kickoff at 7 p.m. from Isotopes Park.