United keeps the playoff dream alive with 3-2 win

United keeps the playoff dream alive with 3-2 win

On a desperate quest for three points to keep their playoff hopes alive, New Mexico United defended their home pitch against the Mark Lowry led Indy Eleven. United overcame an early goal by Indy on their way to a 3-2 win and a much needed points boost.

After a weather delay of nearly an hour, the match between Indy and New Mexico got off to a fast start as both clubs were looking to improve their playoff standings. United, of course, was looking to get back into the playoff spots while Indy was looking to continue their ascent up the table toward fourth place. Twice within the opening six minutes Nicky Hernandez had chances to go for goal, but the first was well over the bar and the second was wide right. It was a promising sign from a side that was in desperate need of points.

Indy, under the leadership of Mark Lowry, wouldn’t get their first look at goal until the ninth minute, but they would make the most of it. The visitors had won a corner and Cam Lindley waiting in the left field corner for his chance to send the ball in. Once again a set piece would undo United when the ball fell to Sebastian Guenzatti who niftily slotted the ball into the right corner, catching Andrew Thomas going the wrong way, 0-1 to the visitors.

Amando Moreno, who was returning from International Duty with El Salvador, nearly equalized for United in the 11th. Hernandez would send in a cross of his own from the left for Moreno, who headed the ball off the left post, inches from bringing the score level.

Indy would have a chance to extend their lead in the 25th minute after earning a penalty. On the ball once again, Guenzatti drove between Kalen Ryden and Will Seymore. As he entered the area, the forward brought his legs together and invited contact from Ryden, and was awarded the foul as he went down in the area. Given the opportunity to take the penalty himself, Guenzatti shot to the right corner of the net, but the ball was well saved by Thomas to keep the scoreline at 0-1.

United struggled to string together a cohesive attack for much of the half as passes seemed to go astray or behind their intended targets. Near the end of the half, United abandoned the high press and patiently tried to set their lines as Indy went into the attack in the 43rd. Sitting back allowed United to pick off a pass and make a play in transition. Hernandez patiently strode to the top of the area before playing the ball off to his right and the waiting Sergio Rivas. Rivas would slot the ball under the dive of Tim Trilk to equalize, 1-1.

Eric Quill exclusively on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM after the win against Indy Eleven

Both sides were looking for those three crucial points in the playoff race as they came out of the break. Neither was giving room until the 64th when United was able to break through the press of Indy and Zico Bailey found Hernandez deep in the attacking half of the pitch. Hernandez took the pass in stride and as he neared the box, cut back to his left before curling the ball into the bottom left corner for the lead, 2-1.

United supporters were hoping that their club would find an insurance goal as the night grew long to secure the three points. Their hopes were answered in the 84th when Greg Hurst drew a penalty. As he raced into the box, Trilk came off of his line and attempted to play the ball, but caught the forward, cutting his legs out from under him. Justin Portillo was given the honors and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner to extend the lead to 3-1.

Before it was all said and done, Indy would give the fans one last chance to fret over the result. In the 94th minute, Jesus Vazquez was able to pull one back for the visitors. A chip from Asante into the area fell for the defender, who finished with his left foot to close the gap to one, 3-2. Time would expire before Indy could do anything else and United picked up a huge win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Player of the Match

Nicky Hernandez – Hernandez was heavily involved throughout the night and he added two goal contributions to his season tally tonight. With a goal and an assist, Hernandez proved to be a game changer for United with his creativity and defensive efforts before being subbed out after his goal.

Up Next

The brutal end to the schedule for United continues with a coast-to-coast trip this week when they first visit Sacramento Republic, who they beat 3-0 in Albuquerque, before heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Riverhounds. The match against Sacramento Republic is set to take place on Wednesday, September 20 from Heart Health Park. Coverage of that match will begin at 7 p.m. with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pregame show. The duo will then bring every minute of every play with kickoff at 8 p.m. All coverage can be heard on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, or The TEAM apps.