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.

Now, it’s a matter of whether they can carry that momentum over to Friday’s match against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The club’s previous excursions to Colorado Springs have generally gone in United’s favor. Over the first two seasons, United holds a 3-1-1 record on the road against the Switchbacks. 

If this was either of those two seasons, I’d be hard pressed to pick against United. Since the middle of the 2020 season, something has been different about the Switchbacks though. They’ve looked better in terms of passing the eye test. 

For the 2021 season, they’ve brought in a ton of new faces as well as a new coach. And from what we saw down at Mesa del Sol, they’ve got a new attitude about them. A new sense of confidence. Why shouldn’t they? They signed Hadji Barry, a striker with a ton of potential. Barry was a threat even in the pre-season match and just opened his regular season account last weekend against SKC II. 

The Switchbacks looked dangerous and that’s something United will have to prepare for.

Player to Watch

Austin Dewing – I’m sure many folks expected to see Barry’s name here and he rightfully could be. But Dewing is a talent player who can open plenty of opportunities for himself and Barry. The United defenders will need to ensure they always keep an eye on him. 

United just has to keep doing what they did against Austin. Honestly, I think it’s that simple. Ball movement and movement off the ball will be the key against Colorado. That starts in the midfield. Andrew Tinari and Juan Pablo Guzman each had very good outings against Bold FC. Not only did they create several turnovers in the midfield, but their distribution also helped create chances in the final third. 

Projected XI against Switchbacks FC

Another key takeaway from the prior two matches is the leg of Kalen Ryden. Several times over the past two matches, we’ve seen Kalen deliver balls over the top that have resulted in goals for United. Kalen’s vision of the field is unparalleled. The development of that part of United’s attack gives opposing clubs another thing to worry about. 

Player to Watch

Sergio Rivas – Rivas went on an absolute tear against Austin and opened his account for the club. Several times throughout the match, Rivas played his way into a dangerous position and could have ended up with a couple more goals. 

Friday’s match is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 pm (MDT) from Weidner Field. The match will be streamed domestically on ESPN+ and internationally on YouTube.