Maples Penalty Secures 1-0 Win Over Switchbacks

Maples Penalty Secures 1-0 Win Over Switchbacks

Pride on the Pitch night was yet another test in New Mexico United’s season. Facing more pace than they have in any other match, there was concern about how they would handle it after the loss to Memphis. But, in a gritty match, it was a 90th-minute penalty from Talen Maples that gave United the win over Colorado Switchbacks FC, 1-0, to remain unblemished at home.

Despite their road form, the Switchbacks came looking for a fight at The Lab. They struggled to find possession early, conceding much of it to United. Even with that discrepancy, the visitors had the better of the chances and it was visibly so.

One thing that United was able to do well in the first half was exploit the wide areas of the pitch while the Switchbacks seemed content to remain compact. They were forcing United to beat them from the outside in. United looked to the feet of Chris Gloster to help with that up the left wing. In the 12th minute, Glost was played free up the left and looked to have an opening to find Chris Hurst at the top of the six-yard box. The chance was left begging as it was just a pace or two in front of the Scotsman.

The Black and Yellow would get a follow-up chance less than a minute later, again starting from the wide area and Hurst managed to get a shot off from around twelve yards, but it was deflected away.

In the 15th, the pace of Ronaldo Damus nearly created a goal for his club. He had been successfully playing off the shoulder of both Tony Herbert and Talon Maples in the early going and was expertly timing his runs. This time, he drove just off the right side of the goal and forced Alex Tambakis off his line. The Grecian charged off his line, made himself big, and took the ball off the foot of the striker.

Colorado was the first side to shake the net, but it didn’t come along with the lead. In the 20th minute, a turnover by United in their defensive third resulted in a free kick on the edge of the area. In an attempt to play quickly, the ball ended up at the feet of Maalique Foster, who shot from a tight angle but put the ball into the side netting.

Right at the half hour mark, Tambakis made what was likely to be the play of the match. In rapid succession, the United keeper was forced to make two saves. Each of which came by way of shots from Foster and both were deflected out due to kick saves.

Harry Swartz would be lost to United for the remainder of the match after being subbed off in the 35th. The midfielder would take a blow to the head and was replaced under the concussion protocol by Avionne Flanagan. The use of the concussion sub, means that United did not lose one of their normal substitution windows.

A feisty first half ended goalless despite Colorado having ten shots and more big chances than the hosts. They outshot United 10-3 yet trailed in possession by a wide margin.

Coming out for the second half, United looked like they did against FC Juarez; far more confident and dangerous on the ball. Eric Quill’s side kept trying to play from the wide areas and Gloster had another chance to link up in the 57th minute. Heading north this time, he sent another cross into the area, but couldn’t link up with either Micaletto or Hurst.

Marco Micaletto and Nanan Houssou would each force saves out of Christian Herrera in the 64th and 65 minutes. Herrera somehow managed to get a touch on both and keep United off the scoreboard, at least temporarily.

Another key moment would come in the 83rd when Flanagan would get his turn to test the Switchbacks keeper. From the left of goal, Flanagan would pull the shot across his body and go wide right of goal, just narrowly missing.

United finally found a way to stay unblemished at home in the 90th minute. Mukwele Akale had what looked to be a free run on goal, but was tripped up inside the box drawing a penalty in the dying moments of the night. In an unexpected turn, Talen Maples was given the task of stepping to the mark for the attempt. Herrera would dive to his right, while Maples pushed the ball into the opposite corner, breaking the deadlock, and scoring the matchwinner for United, 1-0.

Player of the Match

Alex Tambakis – Tambakis had a tremendous night between the sticks for United. With five total saves on the night, including a sequence that saw him pick up three in as many minutes, his performance was one of the biggest reasons for the United win.

Up Next

United’s next match will once again see them go on the road, this time to face the struggling San Antonio FC. That match will take place on Saturday, June 29th. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 PM (MT). Coverage will begin with the pregame show featuring Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman at 6 PM (PT). Catch every minute of every play all season long on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, and The TEAM apps.