United closes road trip with 2-1 win over Vegas

United closes road trip with 2-1 win over Vegas

New Mexico United needed to come back West and gain some momentum. After a horrid end to their East Coast swing, a match against Las Vegas Lights could be just what they needed. A surprise start for Daniel Bruce gave United all they needed offensively for a win over the Lights in Vegas, 1-2.

United did not look like the same club that played in Tampa Bay last weekend. Both on the team sheet and the effort on the pitch. Not only did Daniel Bruce return to the lineup, but the new signing Abdi Mohamed was given a chance to make a debut. It was a different looking formation from what has been seen out of United, but the changes worked early.

The Black & Yellow were the aggressors against the club that just lost 6-0 in their previous outing. United attacked the middle early and often and it led to a few attempts that caused the Lights to look uncomfortable at the back. This was one of the keys to the match for United, and with Bruce playing as a false 9, it allowed him space to work through the middle.

In the 13th minute, the visitors had a chance deep inside of the goal area of the Lights. When newcomer Mohamed had an attempt blocked, United was able to recycle the ball and stay on the attack. As the movement shifted to the right side of the box, Bruce was free on the left. Mohamed headed a pass to the Englishman, who coolly finished in the back left of the net for the lead, 0-1.

United had seen some success in the 2023 campaign when Bruce played up top. It should come as no surprise that there was some tonight as well.

In the 30th, Bruce would continue to make most of his first start of the season. Created out of the midfield the chance was realized by Zico Bailey who was able to turn and spring Nanan Houssou. The Ivory Coast international looked up and found Bruce on the right side of the area. From just outside the box, Bruce would once again find the left side of the net and double the lead, 0-2.

Before the half drew to a close, the hosts would pull one of those goals back by way of Gaoussou Samake. In the 44th, Valentin Noel was able to play the ball behind United’s right back Arturo Astorga and into the feet of Samake. Streaking down the left, Samake made his way to the box and was able to finesse his shot past three defenders and Alex Tambakis to cut the deficit to one, 1-2.

United had a chance to extend the lead again early in the second half by way of a penalty. In the 48th, Mukwele Akale tried to drive into the right side of the box and as he drove by the defender, he felt a tug on the jersey and went down, drawing the penalty. Having drawn the foul, Akale was given the chance to convert from the mark. He opted to try and go to his right and to the top of the frame. Taken with pace, the shot appeared ready to strike the net, but Raiko Arozarena made a save, keeping the Lights within one.

In the 74th, United’s lead nearly evaporated. As the ball was played back to Anthony Herbert, he looked to play it across to Talen Maples. The pass between the centrebacks had nowhere near enough pace on it, and Vegas nearly capitalized. Coleman Gannon intercepted the pass and tried to beat Tambakis, but the Grecian came up big, pushing the ball out for a corner and preserving the lead.

Although the Lights looked like the better side in the second half, time and again they were stymied by United, especially Tambakis. United’s keeper made some big save down the stretch to keep United on track to pick up the win.

Of special note, Jackson Dubois made his debut for the club in league play as a stoppage time substitute and earned his first professional minutes.

Player of the Match

Daniel Bruce – It took nearly two months for him to get a start in 2024, and he certainly made the most of it. With two goals and a lot of frustation caused to Las Vegas, United followed his lead and picked up a great win on the road.

Up Next

United is finally back at home after another extended road trip. Upon their return to Albuquerque, United will play host to MLS side Real Salt Lake in the US Open Cup Round of 32. That match will take place on Wednesday, May 8 from The Lab. Kickoff for that match is set for 7 PM (MT), but coverage begins at 6 PM with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman on the pregame show. All coverage can be heard on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, and The TEAM apps.