Surging United test unbeaten streak against Orange County

New Mexico United has been one of the hottest clubs in the USL over the past month and they show no signs of slowing down. Their latest performance saw the club take down the Western Conference leaders and further muddy the playoff picture ahead of their trip to see Orange County SC.

This is the second meeting between the two sides this season and the hosts are looking for a bit of revenge. The last time out, the two sides met in Albuquerque where United took a 3-1 win over OCSC. It was one of the few early season highlights for United, while it was a match to forget for the visitors. This time though, Orange County has a bit of momentum behind them as their Jekyll and Hyde season is in an upswing. Coming off of a wild 4-3 win over Memphis 901 FC, OC has really only one reason to be hopeful, Milan Iloski.

Iloski has arguably been the best part of Orange County’s season. He leads the club in goals scored and has really solidified his spot as one of the best forwards in the USL. The problem is that he can’t do it alone. OCSC has struggled at the back, particularly between the sticks, where both keepers on the roster have conceded fifteen goals apiece this year. Neither have been impressive in their performances and with an underperforming back line in front of them, it could be a very long night against New Mexico.

Player to Watch

Milan Iloski – There really isn’t another option here. Iloski leads the attack for OCSC and has contributed to twelve goals (9 G, 3 A) in twenty-one appearances for the club. He’ll garner the most interest of anyone on the pitch for the hosts, and it will be up to Sam Hamilton and Kalen Ryden to hold him in check.

For the Black & Yellow of New Mexico, they come into the weekend once again with at least one match in hand over every other club in the conference. This time a positive result could further help widen the gap between United and missing out on the playoffs. It would also solidify the impact that the new coach has had on the club in a short time span.

On his weekly segment on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM, New Mexico United Owner and President Peter Trevisani couldn’t say enough about the turn around of the club. “About a month or so ago, we made a coaching change and got some momentum. We beat the top team in the league and did it on Meow Wolf night.”

It’s easy to point to the improved offensive output of the club, but the defense has improved just as much, if not more so. Since the loss to Rising back in June, the club has allowed three goals in five outings, including three clean sheets to increase the season total to four. The thing about the the defense is that from a roster standpoint, nothing has changed. Positionally though, Sam Hamilton has slid back into back four and is excelling. The defensive unit has been stellar over the previous five matches and against a subpar Orange County attack, United could be in line for another great result.

Player to Watch

Nicky Hernandez – The newest full signing to the club, Hernandez has been a major factor in the midfield for United. A box to to box midfielder that has the ability to play physical will be one of the keys to slowing down the attack of Orange County.

“Nicky came in on a 25-day contract after a bad injury and he just wanted to prove himself,” continued Trevisani. “He’s had a big impact on the club especially with the absence of Chris Wehan. Let’s just say he’s canceled his return ticket.”

Coverage of Saturday night’s match will begin on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM at 7 p.m. (MT) with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pre-game show. The duo will continue their coverage with the match itself at 8 p.m. (MT). Catch every minute of every play on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, or The TEAM apps.