New Mexico United and Sacramento Republic FC once again put on a show in the post-season. The two sides fought throughout the evening, but it was Republic that came out on top, 1-0, and advanced to the next round of the playoffs, eliminating United for the third time.
As was to be expected, the hosts came out aggressive on their home pitch. Even with it being a slippery mess, the clubs attempted to find chances to break on their opponents. Before anyone knew it, the first ten minutes had come and gone with neither side having a true opportunity on goal. United appeared content to absorb some pressure and look for a counterattack, while Republic was hoping to catch United out of position.
In the 13th minute, United had a chance to clear the ball out of their defensive third but when they were unable to do so, Republic had the opportunity to recycle the ball. Maintaining possession, Rodrigo Lopez found space to send a cross, searching for the back post. As the ball hung in the air, Conor Donovan crossed in front of Josh Suggs and headed the ball into the right side of the goal for the lead, 1-0.
The Black & Yellow eventually found their footing and began to put some pressure on the Republic keeper, Danny Vitiello. It turned into one of those nights that had been seen throughout the season in which United looked great in the build-up, but the finishing wasn’t there.
At times, United looked dangerous, but they lacked supporting runners. At times, United looked dangerous but they had poor touches. At times, United looked dangerous but Republic was able to collapse and stop the attack.
The run of play was much closer to that of the second match between the two clubs than the 3-0 win for United in July. For his part, Coach Eric Quill threw as many attacking subs into the mix as he could. At one point, United was playing with one defender in the defensive half. But, nothing could break down the Republic defense. In the closing moments, United sent keeper Andy Thomas forward and on the last kick of the match, United’s corner was deflected out of play and the attack, as well as United’s season, ended with the final whistle.
Player of the Match
Andy Thomas – Once again, Thomas was great between the posts for United. His efforts kept the match within reach for the entire night. Although he was only credited with two saves, he came up big in key moments to stifle attacks and put his team in chances to push forward.
For Eric Quill and his staff, they will look toward the offseason. Roster changes will be coming and Quill will be looking to bring in more players for his system before the team gets ready for the 2024 season.