After falling short against Orange County SC last weekend, New Mexico United is looking to get back in the win column and back above the playoff line.
“Every body would have been happier if the scoreline had been reversed,” said United President and Owner Peter Trevisani exclusively on his radio segment on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM this week. “We gotta give them credit and at the end of the night, they’re in 5th and we’re in 9th. It shows you how every game matters.”
The closer the season gets to the end point, the slimmer the margin of error becomes for a club in the situation that United is. A five match unbeaten run had put them back above the playoff line and had things looking promising. Unfortunately, a loss to OCSC cut the run and results from around the league put club back on the outside looking in. This weekend though, United faces off against Eastern Conference basement dwellers Hartford Athletic.
In terms of scheduling, Hartford looks like a trap match on paper. They recently relieved their head coach, Tab Ramos, of his duties as the club was mired in a poor season. Offensively Hartford could be a threat to United with players like Elvis Amoh on their roster, the issue will be whether or not the defense can keep them in the match long enough for Amoh to have an impact on the outcome.
There aren’t very many clubs as bad as Hartford are at the defensive end of the pitch. On the season, they’ve conceded 2.2 goals per match and really haven’t found any way to cut down on the defensive errors. The issues at the back may come to a head against United, a club that is really coming into their own offensively.
Player to Watch
Kyle Edwards – The 26 year old forward from Saint Vincent has been one of the brightest spots of the season for Hartford. After spending a number of years under Ramos-like systems, Edwards had done well under the now-former manager this season. His conversion rate and shots on target leave a bit to be desired, but he is dangerous around the area.
Part of United’s undoing against Orange County was their inability to break down defense of their opponents. They weren’t quick enough in transition to keep the defenders from setting up shop inside the goal area. That shouldn’t be as much of an issue against Hartford, but given the difference in the seasons of the two sides, there’s a chance that the hosts will sit back and try to absorb as much pressure as possible while looking for chances to counter. United will have to get back to what made them successful over the month of July, which is quick, decisive movement and getting Daniel Bruce involved early.
“You don’t get bonus points for the most shots,” continued Trevisani. “You can have momentum for 60 minutes and not come away with anything, or be down after a fluke goal. It’s a brutal game that way and every goal counts.”
Defensively, United will be missing their captain, Sam Hamilton, after he was given a late red card against Orange County last weekend. In he place, Eric Quill will likely insert Kyle Colonna into a starting role or put Will Seymore at centerback again. Either way, the back line will need to adjust to the absence of Hamilton. Fortunately, Kalen Ryden has been resurgent this season and will be able to lead the line against a less than stellar Hartford attack.
Player to Watch
Kyle Colonna – If Colonna gets the start on Saturday, the young man has a very good opportunity ahead of him. With a chance to feature alongside Ryden or Seymore, Colonna could be the physical presence United needs to keep Hartford off the board.
Coverage of Saturday night’s match will start at 4 p.m. (MT) with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pre-game show. The pair will then have every minute of every play starting with kickoff at 5 p.m. The broadcast can be heard on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, on The TEAM website, and The TEAM apps.