United eliminated after valiant effort against LAFC, 3-1

United eliminated after valiant effort against LAFC, 3-1

New Mexico United took to the City of Angels for arguably the biggest match in club history. With a chance to advance to the semifinals of the US Open Cup, the Black & Yellow faced the MLS Western Conference leading Los Angeles FC. United started slow, but charged back in the second half to make the outcome harder on LAFC. In the end, a goal from Greg Hurst wasn’t enough as United was eliminated from the Open Cup by a final of 3-1.

United wasn’t afraid to play a high line on the road, and it seemed to surprise the hosts a bit. Despite being under some pressure, LAFC were the aggressors in the opening minutes. It didn’t take long for LAFC to show why they are top of the Western Conference. In the 6th minute, a cross from Mateusz Bogusz was sent across the face of goal, forcing Alex Tambakis to push the ball away from the goal. The deflected ball fell directly to Timothy Tillman, who promptly put it past Tambakis into the top of the net for the early lead, 1-0.

As is expected in most match-ups between upper and lower divisions, the talent, and payroll differences, showed from the opening minutes. The pace off the wings from Bouanga proved difficult for United to deal with. Although they were able to slow down the central attack for most of the first half, there were some dangerous moments. One of those moments came in the 27th.

Bounga had switched over to the right wing and had a chance to play the ball across for Bogusz. At pace, Bogusz seemed to have the better of the United defenders. Jacobo Reyes chased him down inside the area and forced the forward to put back to goal, ending the attack in a great defensive moment.

It was in the 37th that another great effort from Tamabakis was wasted. David Martinez played his way into the area and shot from the left side of the goal area, and the Greek goalkeeper made a great save. Once again, the ball fell right back to LAFC, specifically Martinez, who got a second chance and this time put the ball into the far right corner doubling the lead, 2-0.

The second half started slow for both sides, but LAFC still looked to be in relative control of the match. United’s fitness was starting to shine though. Eric Quill impressed upon his side a need to press LAFC and try to force mistakes. While the mistakes didn’t come, United was gradually working their way back into the flow of the evening.

It was because of this added effort that United finally found a quality chance. After a charge up the right wing in the 57th, a cross was sent to the top of the circle looking for Marco Micaletto, Micaletto would go down, allowing Nannan Houssou to get onto it. Houssou managed to find Greg Hurst, who took a chance from 20 yards out. The Scot’s right-footed worldie sent Hugo Lloris diving to his left, but Hurst put too much on it for the former Hotspur and cut the lead, 2-1.

The goal put a spark into United and they certainly gave it their all. Their creativity was back and they stuck to their way of playing, starting out of the back. They looked to move the ball quickly and force LAFC into poor positioning.

All of that hard work was undone when LAFC picked up a third goal in the 77th. After a turnover near midfield, and what may have been a missed foul, Tillman came away with the ball and looked up to see Bogusz. Bogusz made a sharp move inside the area, cutting the ball back onto his right foot and curled it around multiple defenders and past Tambakis to reclaim the two-goal lead, 3-1.

After the results this week, the only USL club to advance was Indy Eleven who defeated Atlanta United. The semi-final round will consist of three MLS clubs and one USL club.

Player of the Match

Talen Maples/Anthony Herbert – United’s centrebacks did a tremendous job slowing down Bouanga and the rest of the LAFC attack. If not for some unfortunate rebounds, the outcome could have been different. The duo showed no fear of what LAFC brought and made their presence felt throughout the night.

Up Next

United has some time off now that they’re eliminated from the Open Cup. They return to league play on July 20th when Birmingham Legion come to The Lab. Coverage of that match will begin at 6 p.m. with the pregame show featuring Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman. Kickoff for that match will being at 7 p.m. with Diehl and Hageman bringing every minute of every play on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website, and The TEAM apps.