The most direct path for New Mexico United is to win out. It sounds a lot easier than it looks on paper. With matches against Louisville City FC, Phoenix Rising FC, and Memphis 901 the schedule doesn’t let up. Fortunately for United, there is some good news as they head into the weekend.
Louisville City comes into the weekend having secured their playoff spot after a win over Loudoun United their last time out. While there’s always a chance that they rest starters, it’s less likely since they are still in the hunt for a home playoff game. They’ll need a win and a loss by Birmingham Legion to open up that pathway, but that isn’t outside of the realm of possibilities.
Even in recent losses, City has been able to find ways to keep getting on the scoreboard. Danny Cruz has his club playing well at the right time of the year and the desire to keep home field advantage is a great motivator. City’s record away from Lynn Familly Stadium has been less than desirable and they’ll want play as many matches at home as they can. United hasn’t defended teams that can play on the counter and City is one of those that can. With talent like Wilson Harris and Cameron Lancaster leading the line, City could be more than enough for United on Saturday.
Player to Watch
Amadou Dia – Dia has been the star of the defense for City this season. The veteran has led the back line and statically has been a monster for his club. When it comes to shutting down opposing attackers, Dia will make it extremely hard for United to find the net on Saturday.
New Mexico United has to win. That’s all there is to it. A loss will all but end their playoff hopes for the 2023 season. Even if the Black & Yellow win out, they’ll likely need help. Not only will they need help from other results around the conference, they’ll need help from within.
The attack has been less than stellar, and in matches against Sacramento and Pittsburgh last week, they struggled to make any quality shots. Without putting pressure on opposing keepers, United faces a tough task. Shanyder Borgelin and Greg Hurst have both been largely ineffective and the most dangerous aspect of United’s club, Daniel Bruce, has been injured of late. They’ll have to figure out how to shut down Louisville’s varied attacks and be creative enough to find ways to score goals.
Player to Watch
Daniel Bruce – returning from injury Bruce could be a spark that United needs for the final three matches. United is in desperate need of goals and a creative body coming out of the midfield. If he’s back and can get back into form, he could be just what they need.
Coverage of Saturday night’s match starts with the pregame show with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman at 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM. Following the pregame, the pair will bring every minute of every play starting with kickoff at 7 p.m. on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, or The TEAM Apps.
Meanwhile, United did get some good news this week as it was announced on Friday that the City of Albuquerque intends to lease seven acres of land at Balloon Fiesta Park to the club for the purpose of building a multi-use stadium.
“We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of work to do,” said New Mexico United Director of Communications and Fan Experience, David Wiese-Carl exclusively on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM. “It will be a long process, but this is a great first step.”
There were some caveats that come with the lease, that still need approval by the city council, which will be required of the club. The club cannot host matches during Balloon Fiesta, a minimum $30 million dollar investment by the club, and the club will pay rent as well as a percentage of all parking fees to the city.
“We have no desire to get in the way of the incredible things that happen at Balloon Fiesta Park,” continued Wiese-Carl. “Nothing is being given to the club. We’ll be paying rent back to the city and a percentage of the parking. This location is used to handling thousands upon thousands of vehicles during Balloon Fiesta. We’re still figuring out the actual capacity, but even if we sold out a 10,000-seat stadium it wouldn’t come close to the amount of traffic that Balloon Fiesta gets.”