A languid rudderless opening 45 minutes left New Mexico United too much to do on Saturday night as the expansion USL side lost at home for the first time. United fell 3-0 to Sacramento Republic in front of an announced 14,780 fans at Isotopes Park.
Coming off Wednesday’s draw against OKC Energy, New Mexico United (6-2-7) made seven changes to its starting 11 including all four midfielders.
“We were a little bit disjointed from the beginning,” New Mexico United technical director Troy Lesesne said. “They were able to put us under a lot more pressure than I prepared in the scout. Maybe started a little bit slower because of the changes,and that’s on me.”
The visitors kept the ball early. A long Sacramento throw-in ignited consternation in the United area before the ball was hacked clear.
Twice in the first quarter hour, Sacramento (6-5-2) sent dangerous crosses through the area to no avail. United defender Justin Schmidt made amends for a 22nd-minute turnover, hustling back to snuff out the Republic danger.
But Schmidt was punished in the 31st for hauling down a Republic attacker on another long throw in. Sacramento’s Cameron Iwasa calmly slotted the penalty kick low to Goalie Cody Mizell’s left.
“We didn’t get into our rhythm. We have our system; we didn’t play it,” Schmidt said. “Every team has their day and it wasn’t ours. It was all self-inflicted.”
New Mexico lacked the requisite first-half precision to keep possession. A quick 22nd minute counter off a Toni Soler challenge and Ryan Williams through ball found Kevaughn Frater in space, but the USL scoring leader dragged United’s only first half shot wide.
“First half I just felt like there might have been lack of activity and rhythm, we were kind of passive, second to everything,” Austin Yearwood said. “When we’re attacking and in a rhythm, it takes lot of pressure off our defense.”
At halftime, New Mexico brought on midfield metronome Juan Guzman and winger Santi Moar to inject pace and purpose. In the 48th minute, Moar dribbled through three defenders before finding Kevaughn Frater in the left channel for a shot. It was United’s first real menacing moment all match.
Two minutes later Austin Yearwood bombed down the left before he crossed to finding Ken Akamatsu for a shot that rattled the goal frame. Moar had a go in the 54th but Sacramento goalie Josh Cohen did enough to gather the rebound.
Needing a further rebuttal, United added Devon Sandoval to the attack in the 66th minute. He laid off to Akamatsu in the 69th who fired directly at a grateful Cohen.
Republic FC regained their footing and added the finish blow from a 77th minute Matthew Mahoney header. Rai Saari had plenty of time to measure his back-post assist.
“We didn’t get the first goal and then got a little bit undisciplined,” Lesesne said. “Gave away a goal on a set piece and it was game over.”
Iwasa added the Sacramento third in the 90th minute adding an exclamation point to a flowing counter attack.
United begins its 53-day summer hiatus from home, to Isotopes Park until July 31 against the El Paso Locomotive.
“It’s a long break. We wanted to leave New Mexico on a high note and we didn’t do that,” Lesesne said.
United plays at MLS club Colorado Rapids on Wednesday in the fourth round of US Open Cup followed by five straight USL road games. United has fared well away from home, picking up 13 points on the road and 12 at home.
REPUBLIC 3, UNITED 0
Republic FC 1 2 – 3
United 0 0 – 0
Scoring: Republic FC, 32nd minute, Cameron Iwasa; Republic, 77th, Matthew Mahoney; Republic FC 90th minute, Iwasa. Shots: Republic FC 11 (3), United 8 (3). Possession: Republic FC (46.9%) United (53.1%) Corner Kicks: Republic FC (3) United (3). Fouls: Republic FC (11) United (18) Yellow Cards: Republic FC 1 (Ray Saari, 85th minute), United 3(Kevaugn Frater, 35th minute; Manny Padilla 60th; Juan Guzman 61st). Att: 14,780