United look to stay hot in Colorado Springs

United look to stay hot in Colorado Springs

Saturday night at The Lab was a night that no one will ever forget. 

After more than a year and a half between home matches, New Mexico United returned home as conquering heroes. No, there wasn’t a trophy. But on Saturday that didn’t matter. The club, our club, was finally home. Having spent the entire 2020 season on the road, there was no doubt how the club would be welcome home. 

And the club responded in kind. The boys in black dominated Austin Bold FC to pick up their first win of the season by a final of 3-1. It was the kind of performance we had been waiting to see since the regular season began. United finally seemed to find their groove and it paid off for them.

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Finally ‘Home’, United host Switchbacks FC

Finally ‘Home’, United host Switchbacks FC

The last time that New Mexico United played a home match was way back on February 8th of this year. I’m not even sure you can count that as a real match. It was just an intra-squad practice that came about because the Switchbacks weren’t able to make it due to weather. If we’re talking actual competitive football, it’s now 11 months to the day since United last played a match in Albuquerque. 

October 19, 2019, was the date that United last played at home and was the date that they secured their first-ever playoff appearance. 

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Surprising MVP all the way to a super fan look alike, these mid season superlatives have it all

Surprising MVP all the way to a super fan look alike, these mid season superlatives have it all

 It’s the halfway point of this abbreviated season and a gentleman by the name of David Talbot threw out the idea for some mid-season awards and I want to thank him for that because I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. This season has been interesting. We had a loss on the road then had to wait 18 week for a chance to redeem ourselves. Which we did, in a big way. With 5 wins since the restart and only one draw and one loss sees us sitting on top of our group 5 clear ahead of El Paso. 

   New faces have produced and our returning players have shown last year wasn’t a fluke so let’s talk about that and a few more things. 

Offensive Player 

Let’s start with an exciting one. There are a few choices here that are intriguing but it’s gotta be Chris Wehan. 5 goals since the restart and that’s with sitting out the last match. Throw in an assist and a team leading 11 chances created it’s easy to see why he is the offensive player of the mid season. 

  Best Quarantine Look

    I gotta go with David Estrada doing his best impression of our good friend and leader of los cursitos, Xavier Obando. David let his hair and beard grow during the quarantine and I love it! Professional athletes are just like us over the quarantine period. 

Defensive Player

Photo Courtesy RSL Monarchs

It has to go to the team leader in clearances, blocks, and interceptions and that’s the new face on the back line, Kalen Ryden. Kalen has brought a championship pedigree along with tremendous talent from Real Monarchs and it’s showing in the stat sheet and results. Last year through 35 matches if you include the playoff match we had a total of 4 clean sheets and an average goals against of 1.7 per game. This year with Kalen playing in all 8 matches we have had a total of 3 clean sheets and an average of 1.3 goals against per match. That drops to a .71 if you take out the Phoenix match which is being proven as an anomaly. He has been an incredible presence on that back line and has helped lead a drastic change in our defense. 

     Best Podcast Appearance

The 3 Honest Lads podcast is a great usl podcast where broadcasters Mike Watts and Devon Kerr let their hair down and tell us how they really feel. In their last episode they had Las Cruces native Josh Suggs on. Now Suggs got in a little bit of trouble last year for some comments on the Cursecast last year so he was a little more careful about what he said but he opened up about a lot of things including the process of joining New Mexico United. 

Best New Face

Photo Credit: New Mexico United

This one is by far the toughest but I’m gonna go with Amando Moreno. He is tied with Wehan with 11 chances created albeit in one more appearance, he also has a team leading 3 assists and is tied with Devon Sandoval for second on the team with 2 goals. That goal number is sure to rise as he has found his confidence after missing a few early chances. His energy is unmatched on the pitch. He flies around everywhere and has been solid when we opt to high press. Kalen was obviously in the running here as was another gentleman who will be mentioned shortly. 

Best Keeper

Well there isn’t much competition here but I wanted to talk about Cody Mizell a little bit. The defensive numbers mentioned above show that the back line and Cody are doing outstanding as a unit but what role has Cody played in that? A large one that’s for sure. We all hear him on the broadcast supporting his back line after they come up with a big play or helping them get in position in front of him which is huge for a team. He also has a solid percentage of 64.3. Throw in some highlight reel saves and those awesome keeper kits and Cody has been on top of his game this season. 

Best Goal

This might be the easiest of them all. No offense to any of Wehan’s goals or Moreno’s chip last week, but this one goes to the absolute banger from Saalih Muhammad. We all remember it and I encourage you to watch it again and again but I’ll do my best to describe it in all of its glory. It started with Dev making a well timed run and receiving the ball behind the back line of Colorado Springs. On his first touch he tried to beat the keeper but Melvin made a great save and sent the ball flying back towards midfield. That’s where Saalih was waiting and he struck it on the volley so pure that I’m surprised the back of the net could contain it. I’m still left breathless every time I watch that goal and can’t believe that it didn’t win goal of the month, sorry Dev. 

Most Underrated

Daniel Bruce has been incredible this year in ways that go largely unnoticed. He has played all over the pitch including on the back line. He has gotten way more minutes this year then in the early part of last year because he keeps doing the little things. His stats don’t jump of the page by any means, no goals or shots and only one assist, but he has several “hockey assists” and has made hustle play after hustle play on both sides of the ball. I know last year we fell in love with his energy and attaching abilities but this year he is a well rounded player that is doing whatever it takes to help the collective. 

 Most likely to improve over the second half

Photo Credit: Phoenix Rising FC

There really haven’t been that many players that aren’t playing well right now but I will cheat for the first time in this article and mention 2 names here. First let’s start with another new face, Romeo Parkes. Parkes has had chance after chance to put the ball in the back of the net and has only found it once. That was the beautiful header from outside the box against Phoenix. Those shots will eventually start finding the back of the net though. Romeo’s goal scoring prowess is there. He has scored goals everywhere he has played and here will be no different. Next is Rashid Tetteh. Tetteh has been injured most of the season, making only 3 appearances and playing a total of 74 minutes. While he has struggled in those minutes I believe he will get back to the old Tetteh from last year. We have seen glimpses of last year’s Tetteh but I think he might have come back a little too soon. Watch for him to work his way back into the starting line up, making an already good back line even better. 

Best player with wood in his name

Alright you caught me. This is really just an award to talk about Austin Yearwood. This back line was decimated to begin the restart. David Najem and Josh Suggs were injured. Manny Padilla was released from the team. Tetteh missed time. Justin Schmidt is probably done for the year. Other than Ryden and Mizell, Austin has the most minutes played on the team. Austin has been in the lineup for all three of the clean sheets. He had the second most clearances and the second most interceptions. Austin won a spot on the usl team of the week following our clean sheet against Colorado Springs last weekend. He and Kalen have held it down in the back and that needs to be recognized. 

Shout outs

Photo Credit: New Mexico United

There are a few players I haven’t mentioned yet that I want to shout out. Sam Hamilton has been a great asset to this team with his versatility and defending. While he doesn’t have the minutes that Ryden and Yearwood have he still has contributed to the three clean sheets. Ryan Williams and Juan Guzman have been rock solid in the midfield which often gets overlooked. The midfield play leads to better defending and more chances to score. This club features 2 rookies who have both looked good in the limited playing time they have had. Joris Ahlinvi has a start and scored a goal. Samson Sergi has come on as a sub in 5 matches and looked big and fast up top. 

Best Albuquerque Native

Devon Sandoval was the first signing. He scored the first goal and is the local boy everyone loves and for good reason. Devon brings so much to this club on and off the pitch, it’s hard to put a value on him. He’s strong and skilled on the pitch and community driven and caring off of it. He’s the perfect teammate and leader for this club and community and we don’t deserve him. 


Photo Credit: New Mexico United

There is one name that I have been raving about the last month that I haven’t mentioned in this article. The MVP could be any number of players including Wehan or Ryden I have to go with midfielder from New Jersey, Andrew Tinari. Now I know this is going to be controversial but please hear me out. Tinari has only one goal this season along with zero assists but he does have at least 3 hockey assists. His defense in the midfield has started several attacks for us. He rarely makes mistakes yet causes turnover after turnover on the other side of the ball. What he does on the defensive side is what sticks out to me. He leads the team in tackles, is second in tackles won and is fourth in duels won. All from a 5’6” midfielder. His distribution is huge as well. His 79.8% passing accuracy doesn’t jump off the page, it’s lower than some others because he is constantly going forward. He has been the most complete player on the pitch and has directly impacted our offense while also being a huge reasons for the turn around on defense this year. For those reasons he is my mid season Most Valuable Player. 

United go for three in a row in Herriman

United go for three in a row in Herriman

Sometimes it’s hard to admit when you make a mistake. I think it’s time I own up to one. I made a mistake in my preview of Wednesday’s match. I was off the mark with my projected team sheet. 

I fully expected Troy to put out our best XI and take it to the defending champs in what amounts to the first match of a doubleheader. I’m sure many expected to see Devon Sandoval and Chris Wehan carry the load once again. But Troy had other ideas in mind. While the club didn’t exactly take it to Real Monarchs SLC in that match, the team that was on the pitch performed above the expectations of many. 

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