It wasn’t all that long ago that New Mexico United picked up an improbable 3-0 win over Sacramento Republic. Sacramento was at the top of the table then, and still is now, while United was in a playoff position. This time around the match is being played at Sacramento’s home pitch and United is on the outside looking in.
Joining TEAM Talk on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM in his exclusive weekly segment, United President and CEO Peter Trevisani didn’t downplay the importance of that match, or this one. “That was a great victory against them at home. Not to diminish it at all, but they were missing one or two players and those guys are back. Whoever they put out there, it’s going to be an amazing eleven.”
Sacramento has already secured a berth in the playoffs, but they won’t be content to sit back and rest their starters. They’re still fighting for the number one seed and home-field advantage through the playoffs. If their recent form is any indication of how they’re going to finish the season, they may be in the driver’s seat. Three wins from five have them three points clear of San Antonio for the top seed with a match in hand. With a full roster and having been nearly unbeatable at home this season, United’s chances are slim.
Although the attack has sputtered in recent matches, the defensive efforts of Republic have been the saving grace for the California club. In particular, the play of Carlos Saldana in net. Through the three most recent matches, the goalkeeper has recorded twelve saves and given his club every chance to stay competitive throughout them. If he’s in net instead of Danny Vitiello, that stands to be the best possible option for Republic.
Player to Watch
Russell Cicerone – Cicerone is one of those guys that could be included on the player-to-watch list every week. He’s been pivotal in their success this year, despite being quiet of late. He hasn’t found the back of the net since August 5th, but he’s been in and around the goal area more than any group of defenders would like to see.
New Mexico is still clinging to their playoff life after a win at the weekend over Indy Eleven at The Lab. The night started out with United on the front foot, but a goal by the visitors seemed to steal the momentum. Fortunately, Andrew Thomas changed the game with a massive penalty save in the first half.
Speaking exclusively to Andy Hageman on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, Eric Quill sang Thomas’ praise. “Andrew just came up huge and turned the game on its head with that save. That gave us life before the half.”
With the win, United’s odds of making the playoffs edged back up slightly to 10% from 7% the week before. But the road doesn’t get any easier. Two matches are on deck for this week, both against the first-place clubs in their respective divisions. For United, it’s almost a win-or-go-home scenario every night out. With a loss, United could very well be eliminated from playoff contention depending on the results around them. Even with a win, the odds are clearly stacked against them, but Trevisani relishes the David vs Goliath mentality.
“It [the schedule] kinda reminds me of 2020 when we played every match on the road and were the Kings of Chaos,” said Trevisani on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM. “No one expected anything out of us. I kinda like the David vs Goliath and am happy to be the underdog.”
The Black & Yellow seem to be figuring things out defensively with Thomas between the sticks, and aside from a questionable penalty on Friday, that match might have ended up a clean sheet. As its been all season, the question for United is the attack. With Amando Moreno back, things looked better, but it wasn’t perfect. The biggest thing to take away from Friday night is that multiple players were able to get involved and force Indy to react differently instead of focusing on only one threat. If United can do the same against Sacramento, that could be the key to picking up another important win.
Player to Watch
Amando Moreno – Back from international duty, Moreno had an opportunity to get back on the score sheet once again and missed by just inches on Friday. Moreno’s ability on and off the ball will create mismatches for Sacramento on Wednesday night and he could be the one to lead the charge.
Coverage of Wednesday’s match from Heart Health Park will begin with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pregame show on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM at 7:00 p.m. Coverage continues with Adam and Andy with kickoff at 8:00 p.m. Catch every minute of every play on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, or The TEAM apps.