Homecoming night for New Mexico United

They’ve been called the Kings of Chaos.

They’ve been called Road Warriors.

Whatever you call them, our club is finally home. Counting today, it’s been 575 days between matches at The Lab. For supporters and players alike, it’s going to be a memory akin to that first home match back in 2019. 

It’s going to be emotional. It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be a homecoming.

Okay, maybe there won’t be a homecoming court, but all of the pomp and circumstance will be there. From the tailgate to the march-in, it is an event that everyone in attendance will remember. I talked about it on the podcast this week, it’s going to be a series of moments that will play out like a movie. Walking into the stadium will be like that scene in Rudy where his family walks up to Notre Dame Stadium. 

We’ll have the tailgates, get to see the fans stream into the stadium, and the Curse march. 

Then, the moment that walkout music hits, it’s going to be electric. 

All of those moments will build towards kickoff at 7:30. After that, it all comes down to the play on the pitch. All that we can hope for is that the moment and the emotions of the night aren’t too big for United. Hopefully they can harness that energy and that of the supporters and direct it productively. 

After looking better in match week three against El Paso, United still has work to do in order to recapture their form of the past two seasons. Through two regular season matches, United has only managed one goal. Which is a far cry from what we saw in the preseason. What has been working is the long ball and playing down the wings. We saw Harry Swartz and Daniel Bruce bombing down the sides with great effectiveness during the pre-season and during the El Paso match. 

What hasn’t been working is the play through the center of the pitch. While Amando Moreno has been credited with four chances created, the plurality of United’s chances have been created by the wingbacks or defenders. Juan Pablo Guzman and whoever else has played in the middle with him haven’t taken command of the center of the pitch. That has to change if United is to generate more goals.

Projected XI vs Austin Bold FC

Against a club like Marcelo Serrano’s Austin Bold, Troy Lesesne’s men have to step up the midfield play. While the defensive efforts have been decent, its the attacking efforts that have been lacking. The stats over at USL Championship don’t lie. The distribution of the midfield has been good, it just hasn’t led to much in the attacking third. United only has twelve shots and four on target so far. 

Player to Watch

The Midfield – As stated above, it’s going to be the play of the midfield that determines the outcome of this match. They have to play well going both directions and have to create chances for the forwards. 

For Austin, they have a tough test ahead of them in their first match of the season. How they managed to make it to week four without a regular season match, I don’t know. And really not much is known about their actual performance leading into the season. Yes, they went undefeated in their final three pre-season matches with one win and two draws, but we don’t really know what the play was like in those. 

They have a lot of brand new faces this year and Serrano has to find a way to make them all work. Fortunately for their club, many of the players brought in are veterans of the USL and other leagues, which should make his job a little easier. The Bold are looking to make a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The addition of players like Stefano Pinho, Hugo Fauroux, and Omar Gordon has given the Bold supporters a lot of hope that they can accomplish that.

Player to Watch

Stefano Pinho – The Brazilian forward first got his start in 2012 and has been a proven scorer at every stop he’s made in his career. He brings veteran leadership and height to the Bold attack and will be tough to stop. 

Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 pm (MDT) at The Lab. For those not in attendance, the match will be streamed live on ESPN+ and can be heard on 101.7 The TEAM, The TEAM website and via The TEAM app.