2020 Season Preview Part 2: The more things change, the more they stay the same

We took a look back at the first season for New Mexico United last time. This time let’s look at the first offseason for the club. 

We saw 7 players move on from the club. Santi Moar and Kevaughn Frater are the biggest contributors to leave. That opened doors for new players to come in though. The club added 8 new players to the roster highlighted by Kalen Ryden on the defensive side and Amando Moreno of the offensive side. 

The next 5 questions talk about all of that and more. We have the same panel this week, Josh Carrillo (ProView Networks), Earl (Somos Unidos News), Seth Biddulph (Dadventures Media) , and myself. 

Let’s get started 

Bruce is back Photo by: Blue Mountain Images

1. Who are you most excited to see back with the club this year? 

Josh Carrillo: I’m excited to see Daniel Bruce back, I felt he brought a lot of energy to the lineup. Hes a heck of a player and brings passion to the team. I can see him sticking around for a while and also being a major contributor in points this year.

Seth Biddulph: Of all the returning players, I think I’m most excited to see Beez. Although he started slow, he put together his best season as a professional and towards the end of the season, he and Devon were a lethal combination up top. His creativity and ability to play in multiple roles made Beez a must watch player.

Earl Nieto: You guys are going to make me the bad guy here by choosing one. So, I am going to take the “cop out” direction and say everyone. I say everyone though because leading up to the final Play-In match, New Mexico United had gelled with each other, had built camaraderie with one another and Coach Troy could not call a bad lineup. But IF you are going to make me choose ONE, I would have to say I am excited to see how Beez answers his INCREDIBLE season last season. I mean you look at his stats, 10 goals, 82.5% successful pass rate, I am hoping to see him break double digits again with a better goals to shots taken ratio.

2. Which player made the biggest impression on you, either from their contribution on the pitch or involvement in the community?

Josh: This is a tough one, I would have to say Mizell and Sandoval. Mizell on the field was the leader the United needed. Hearing Cody command his team was inspiring to see. Sandoval off the field was the leader we needed, especially being from Albuquerque. Seeing him at the children’s hospital and schools around the state shows me he cares about the community.

Earl: The player that made the BIGGEST impression not only in my eyes but in the fan’s eyes as well, Daniel Bruce…now we can all say in one collective breath, BRUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCE!!!!!!!!!! Even though he only had 2 goals in 17 games, he was a factor in helping Beez get open and streak up the pitch, he was a factor in helping Devon score by drawing defenders away from the goal because he was a goal threat factor.

Jacob Terrell: I have to talk about my guy Toni Soler. I’m so upset he’s not back with the club. His love for this state, shown through his heartfelt post on social media, was genuine and led to him writing for us last year. I know he was bummed when his playing time dropped mid season but he still wrote for us and still kept a positive attitude through the community. 

3. Given the contracts of the players, we knew that we would likely lose a few players after the first season. Which player leaving provides the biggest challenge for United to replace and why?

Always Smiling Photo by: Blue Mountain Images

Josh: I think the loss of Frater hurts us the most as of right now, losing your leading scorer always puts a dent in your lineup. He saved us in a few matches that kept us in the playoff hunt all year.

Seth:  I mentioned on our season preview podcast (which everyone should go listen to by the way) that Kenny Akamatsu was one of my key losses of the offseason. While that’s true, I don’t think he is the biggest challenge to replace. That person, in my opinion, is Santi Moar. Santi was a huge part of our attack for the entire season and his fast start drew the attention of the rest of the conference. Despite a drastic drop off in goals scored, Santi was still able to create chances from the left and opened up a lot of room for Kev or Dev to work in the middle. I think we’ll likely see Amando on the left and if the preseason is any indication, he could be a suitable replacement.

Earl: I think the position that New Mexico United is going to have the biggest challenge filling, is the Forward position. With only Devon returning in that position from last season, the gel of the forward position is going to take some time to replace. Don’t get me wrong, United has done a great job with bringing in Romeo Parkes, Amando Moreno, and Sammy Sergi, with those 3 coming in, I feel that we just might have 4 or 5 double digit scorers.

4. What did you think were the biggest areas of need for the club and do you feel like they adequately addressed them?

Josh: 4 and 5 are gonna be the same for me, I haven’t really looked at the new signings in person. Get back to me after the first 5 matches haha

Seth: From an on the pitch perspective, depth was the most glaring issue. Although we only have one more player signed than we did last year, it feels like there is more depth.  I mean, we brought in three new forwards to really help with that. If you look at the roster, Sam is now listed as a defender, when I think last year he was listed as a midfielder. With him being able to fill in both roles, the cub feels really balanced and I think the rotation that Troy tried to do last year will be helped by the new signings.

Earl: Like I mentioned above, my “area of concern” was both Goalkeeper and Forward. United brought in Philipp Beigl to help Cody and Ben, so I feel they addressed the GK position perfectly. Philipp is a mountain of a man standing at 6’2… he has command of the goal and is pretty intimidating to watch in net. the forward position was answered with all the new signings that I mentioned before. Romeo, Amando, and Sammy. those three there replace the losses of Kevaughn and Santi.

Santi will be hard to replace. Photo by: Blue Mountain Images

Jacob: The defense was a problem last year. We were tied for 15th out of the 18 teams in the west in clean sheets with 4. That has to improve if we want to compete for a cup and I feel like the front office knows that. Having Kalen Ryden be our first signing of the off-season was a huge step in the right direction and adding David Najem later in the off-season was a nice move as well. I’m still a little worried about depth back there but we did lose anyone of consequence on the back line and added 2 nice pieces so that should help a ton. 

5. Of the new signings, who do you feel will make the biggest impact on the club and who becomes the new fan favorite?

Seth: This one is tough. We brought in a number of guys who are experienced and could step in at any point. Kalen Ryden has to top my list though. Coming off a championship season with Real Monarchs, he brings a load of experience and height to our back line which should help sort out some of our defensive issues that we had last year, particularly defending late in matches and clearing the box.

Earl: I think the new signing that will make the biggest impact is Kalen Ryden. Kalen has the field knowledge of when to break forward, when to stay back, and he has the athleticism to be able to score as a defender. In my opinion, Kalen will also be the “new fan favorite” but also has to compete with the likes of Bruce, Beez, Dev, and oh you know, the man that has just about everyone’s heart already, the best goalie….in the league, Cody. But I feel if Kalen does, what Kalen did with Real… he will fit right in. I mean, I know there is a spot in my heart with Santi leaving.

Jacob: I agree with you guys that Kalen is going to be huge on that back line but I’m going to go with Amando Moreno. Coming back down to the USLC after a season in the MLS, where he didn’t get on the pitch much, will make him hungry and he has the talent to make a big impact on our offense. I will even say that he’s going to produce more than Santi did last year. 

Don’t miss the third and final part of our season preview series, where we talk about the season ahead.