United look to continue unblemished start against Orange County

United look to continue unblemished start against Orange County

The first two weeks of the season have been great for the Black & Yellow. In week one they got a clean sheet against what is turning out to be a better than expected Las Vegas Lights. In week two, the good guys decided to shut down the home unbeaten streak of El Paso Locomotive. Which for some reason prompted another podcast to call United ‘inferior’ and insinuated that United was attempting to cause a stop and start flow to the match. At best, it’s the pot calling the kettle black. At worst, it’s lazy “journalism”.

This came from a media outlet that seems to have no problem when their local clubs are guilty of the same thing. Or things like this:

Or there was the time Yuma pretended to be a fish:

But hey, what do I know? It’s not like our club is sitting at the top of the conference with a 2-0-0 record while theirs is 0-3-0 early in the season.

Western Conference Table 3/6/22
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This Feels Different

Harry Swartz and Alexis Souahy celebrate the season opening goal!

    It’s only been two matches but this team has a different feel to it than the past three seasons. There are several factors to that feeling but to me it starts up top. Neco Brett and Tabort Etaka Preston have been fantastic up top. They possess the speed and finishing ability that we have been lacking since year one. I’m convinced that Brett is the only player other than maybe Kevaughn Frater that finishes that chip in El Paso. And the flick by Neco to Tabort against Las Vegas Lights is a play that only happens with those two up top. 

     With those two along with a healthy Harry Swartz, Jerome Kiesewetter, Chris Wehan and the return and possible return of Amando Moreno and Devon Sandoval, the offense has more upside than ever before and that has been vital to the success of this club. In the first three seasons when United scores two goals or more they average 2.19 points per match. On the flip side when they score one or fewer that average drops all the way to 0.72. I imagine other clubs have similar differences but I’m not going to do all that math. I just know that when we score at least two goals we are nearly unbeatable with 27 wins, 9 draws and only 5 losses. 

Neco Brett stays and signs autographs after the season opening win vs. Las Vegas Lights

    The other big difference to me is the way we continue to push forward. Going up 2-0 on Las Vegas Lights was great. Continuing to press and push for another goal was greater. Far too often we would go up only to sit back and inevitably concede a goal or two. In the first three seasons United dropped points in a whopping 23 matches. Now it’s only two matches but so far we have had a lead and held it and I think that’s due, in part, to the aggressive nature we have had. 

     If two matches is the definition of small sample size then what’s one match? In the first three seasons United has only come from a losing position to get a result 11 times. Only three of those 11 turned into wins. What happened against El Paso you ask? We turned the first deficit of 2022 into a win. We showed the grit needed to fight back and then the heart to hold on, which we talked about earlier. Oh and did I mention we were without Kalen Ryden, Austin Yearwood, and Josh Suggs. That’s a great sign moving forward. 

     We haven’t played a perfect match yet but the great teams can turn decent performances into wins and near perfect matches into blowouts. It’s early and the season is long and tedious but the early returns on the Zach Prince era are promising to say the least. 

’22 Derby del Camino Real begins in El Paso

The rivalry between New Mexico United and El Paso Locomotive FC is arguably the one to watch in the entire USL right now. It’s at a point where the on-the-pitch antics have carried over into the preseason meeting between these two sides. Even without anything on the line, these two clubs put it all out there.

After plenty of goals, cards, and differences of opinion between players or supporters over the first three seasons, 2022 is already shaping up to be more of the same.

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United opens 2022 season against Las Vegas

United opens 2022 season against Las Vegas

At long last, the 2022 USL Championship season is underway. And I’m stuck at home.

Okay, not really stuck, but, I’m home with my boys where we’ll enjoy listening to Tyler Ortega and Chris Hurst on the ESPN+ broadcast. And I couldn’t be happier. Football is back in a big way and the expectations for the season are clear, United has to be better at closing out the close games. The hope, as always, is to make the playoffs. That journey starts today.

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