S(no)w Problem for United as Intrasquad match is a big hit

New Mexico United’s second preseason didn’t quite get the start it wanted. If you ask me though, and many of the 2,147 supporters in attendance, this start was even better. 

The club’s preseason was scheduled to start with a friendly against Colorado Springs Switchbacks. But, after their opponents were snowed in the front office quickly switched gears and figured out a way to still put on a match. In the first-ever public intrasquad match for United, it was Team Somos facing off against Team Unidos. 

With the change in opponent, there was also a change in format. Instead of two 45 minutes halves, there were two 30 minute halves. The format change allowed the players to continue to work towards being match fit, while also limiting the possibility of injuries. For the fans, it was a perfect opportunity to see the entire squad, which likely wouldn’t have happened if the match against Colorado had happened as planned. 

In addition to seeing the new roster, the crowd was also introduced to two players on trial with the club. 

All offseason long, supporters on social media have been clamoring for midfielders to help replace the losses of Toni Soler, Ken Akamatsu, and fan-favorite Santi Moar. While their contributions will certainly be missed, I believe the offseason signings will make a difference to the club. That being said, it doesn’t hurt to have options. After training with the club in the preseason, midfielders Connor Rutz and Pablo Pelaez debuted in front of the United supporters. 

Both collegiate players, Rutz played most recently for Saginaw Valley State University and Pelaez was last with the San Diego State University Aztecs. 

Although the first half ended 0-0, there was plenty of action on the pitch. The lineups were distinctly new guys versus the old guys and Team Unidos was taking it to Team Somos throughout. Without actual stats being kept it’s hard to say who had the edge in possession, but by the eye test, I’d say it was Team Unidos. Amando Moreno and Sammy Sergi looked lively on the ball and the new guys forced Cody Mizell into action on a handful of occasions. Ben Beaury was largely untested at the other end of the pitch aside from an early free-kick from Team Somos. 

Standouts for Team Somos in the first half included Daniel Bruce, who, much like last year, wasn’t afraid to get into it with guys bigger than him. Early on it looked like Team Somos looked to have a few chances, but were dispelled by losing possession due to heavy touches. 

There was an injury scare in the second half when Ryan WIlliams went down with what looked like a possible groin or hamstring issue. The injury allowed Troy to pull Williams from the match and make way for the newest United signing, Andrew Tinari. 

Right after Williams went down, Devon Sandoval was able to find the back of the net for Team Somos but was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed. 

Romeo Parkes also came off with a possible injury after pulling up after making a run at new goalkeeper Philip Beigl.

Just before the end of the match, Kalen Ryden showed his wheels after taking possession deep in Team Unidos’ own half. Taking the ball nearly the full length of the pitch, he played it off to Chris Wehan on the right-wing, but nothing came of it and the match ended 0-0.

For an intrasquad match, there were plenty of positives to take away from it. Ball movement was very crisp at times, especially from the young guns of United. The new signings impressed with their movement and decision making on the pitch. Due to the nature of the match, some players were inserted into positions other than their primary one and I think that what was seen should help to assuage the concerns of supporters thinking we may not have done enough in the midfield this offseason.