New Mexico United and Orange County SC came into the night even on points and both were looking to make their case for a spot in the playoffs. In the end, United’s unbeaten run came to an end after a 1-0 loss on the road.
For two sides that were in pretty good form coming into the weekend, each with four wins from five, there wasn’t much to talk about in the first half. Tactically each club seemed to be able to do a bit of what they wanted, but neither truly threatened the opposing goal. United may have held a bit more of the possession, but Orange County controlled the play for the most part.
After halftime, Orange County made a curious substitution in only the 49th minute. Thomas Amang made his way into the match for Marc McNulty. It wasn’t clear why the change wasn’t made at halftime, but Amang immediately looked far more dangerous than the man he replaced. Amang’s pace was enough to force United’s defenders to have to face their own goal more often than they would have liked.
To United’s credit, Amando Moreno and Daniel Bruce had some moments of their own looking for an opener. Bruce nearly had a goal off of a bicycle kick just before the hour mark, he just couldn’t quite get all the way around on the ball to keep it under the bar.
Minutes later, Justin Portillo had an opportunity from around twenty-two yards that went just over the bar.
With United unable to grab a lead, the hosts continued to make substitutions and the fresh legs became an issue for the Black & Yellow. Along with Amang, Orange County brought in Bryce Jamison, who provided a spark down the right side of the pitch. In the 80th, Jamison was played through on the wide channel. When he was, each of the United defenders slowed their pace, looking for an offside call. None was to come, and Jamison played the ball across to the always dangerous Milan Iloski. Iloski easily slotted the ball home for the opener, 1-0.
The substitution strategy employed by Eric Quill was possibly the strangest so far of his tenure. After waiting until the 79th to make his first change of the match, he used all three windows to bring in three players; Santi Moar, Greg Hurst, and Kyle Colonna. None of the three had the impact that was hoped for as United was unable to find a late equalizer before losing 1-0.
Man of the Match
Milan Iloski – As talked about in the preview, Iloski is the biggest threat on the Orange County roster. He put himself in a dangerous spot in the second half and did well to put away the cross from Jamison for the win.
United continues their road swing with a trip to the east coast. Next Saturday they take on Hartford Athletic at Trinity Health Stadium. Kickoff for that match will be at 5:00 p.m. MT with coverage beginning on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM at 4 p.m. with the pre-game show featuring Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman.