United Overcomes Red Card, Leaves San Antonio with 2-3 win

United Overcomes Red Card, Leaves San Antonio with 2-3 win

It’s fast becoming THE rivalry in the West. New Mexico United and San Antonio FC picked up where they left off earlier in the season. The match on Saturday night had a little bit of everything in it, from red cards to career records, before United closed out the match down a man and with a win over SAFC, 2-3.

It was a fast start for United as they scored inside of two minutes at Toyota Field. Taking possession in the attacking third, Avionna Flanagan charged up the left wing and looked for a cross to Greg Hurst. His pass took a defection from off the foot of Mitchell Taintor and fell into the net to put United up, 0-1.

Unfortunately for Flanagan, the goal would go into the record books as an own goal, denying Flanagan his first career professional goal.

Despite the early lead, United struggled to control the flow of the match. Time after time, the whistle sounded, going against United the majority of the time. Within the first 35 minutes, eight of the eleven fouls called went against United, with three yellow cards shown. The free kicks added up and United just couldn’t effectively clear the danger. In the 33rd one of the fouls proved costly.

After Zico Bailey gave up a foul 22 yards out, setting up Jorge Hernandez with a chance to play Juan Agudelo in. The free kick was chipped just up and over the wall as Agudelo sprinted toward the side of the six yard box. Left unmarked by the trailing Hurst, Agudelo was able to wrap the ball around Alex Tambakis for the equalizer, 1-1.

Mukwele Akale became the third United player to go into the book for a hard foul in the 36th minute. This gave the hosts another free kick inside the attacking third. As the ball was played in, Agudelo had an opportunity to go for goal, but his first attempt was blocked. The second, however, was not, and it was played into the top left corner giving San Antonio the lead, 2-1.

United looked to have a chance to potentially equalize in the 39th as Akale was played into the area. Nearing the byline, Akale appeared to take a foul through the back by Bura. Going down, Akale thought he had won a penalty, but the referee inexplicably showed a yellow to the United midfielder for simulation, his second of the game, and thus sending him off.

Now down a man, United had an even bigger uphill battle before them. Already struggling to get a foothold in the match from an attacking standpoint, it would be hard to come back against a San Antonio side that was looking confident. Just before halftime, United had a chance after winning a corner in the 44th minute. Bailey stood over the corner looking for a man in the area.

He would find Abdi Mohamed unmarked in the goal area. Mohamed was able to elevate and put a powerful header into the top left corner of the net to square the match, 2-2.

Coming out of the half, the Black & Yellow had the first chance in the closing stanza. As he attempted to cross the goal area, Avionne Flanagan was taken down from behind by Shannon Gomez, drawing a foul and a penalty. Talen Maples, the hero from the Colorado Springs match a week ago was not given the chance, but instead it was Hurst in the 51st. Taking a slight hesitation in his run up, Hurst was able to force Kendall McIntosh to go to his right, the left side of the net, while Hurst put his shot in the opposite direction, retaking the lead, 2-3.

Looking to do the improbable, United fell back into a 4-4-1 formation, hoping to defend the lead. San Antonio would have their chances, but could only put a total of five shots on goal the entire night. The most dangerous of the second half came in the 85th minute off the foot of Jorge Hernandez. Going for goal from around 20 yards out, he looked for the bottom right corner, but Tambakis was quick to dive and make the save, the 574th regular season save of his career, making him the all-time record holder in the USL.

United’s defense stood tall and kept San Antonio out of the back of the net and picked up their fourth road win of the season and extended their lead in the Western Conference to five points, pending the rest of the action on Saturday night.

Player of the Match

Alex Tambakis – Though he only had three saves on the night, two came in the biggest minutes of the match. As United was fighting to close out the match, the Greecian was at the top of his game and picked up two key saves. The saves put him at 575 regular season saves in his career, making him the all-time USL regular season saves leader.

Up Next

In their final warmup before the US Open Cup match against LA FC, United has one more match at home on July 3. That match will be against Orange County SC, who currently sits 8th in the Western Conference. Coverage of that match will begin with the pregame show with Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman at 6 PM (MT). Following the pregame show, the pair will bring every minute of every play starting with kickoff at 7 PM (MT). United can be heard all season long on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, and The TEAM apps.