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Victory slips away in final minute for United at El Paso

United goalkeeper Alex Tambakis punches away an El Paso shot as black-and-yellow clad teammates, including a leaping Kalen Ryden, rush to his defense. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/El Paso Locomotive FC

EL PASO — Six minutes of stoppage time included one minute too many for New Mexico United on Saturday night.
United was roughly 60 seconds away from what would have been a stirring victory at Southwest University Park, only to end up settling for a hard-fought 1-1 draw with rival El Paso Locomotive FC.
El Paso’s Leandro Carrijo banged in the tying goal in the closing seconds scrape a little of the icing off New Mexico’s strong second-half performance.
Instead of heading into next Saturday’s long-awaited home opener with three points, NMU had to head home with one.
“That’s a tough one to swallow, giving up a late goal like that,” United coach Troy Lesesne said afterward. “I’m incredibly proud of our effort and execution, really on both ends, playing away against a quality opponent. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite finish the game. That’s the next thing we have to work on.”
Until the final minute, New Mexico (0-1-1) appeared set to ride Devon Sandoval’s second-half goal to victory. Sandoval, who has made a habit of torturing the Locos during his career, scored in the 57th minute to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage.

United’s Daniel Bruce battles an El Paso player for possession. New Mexico led 1-0 going into the final minute of stoppage time, only to give up a goal that yielded a 1-1 draw. United plays its home opener next Saturday vs. Austin Bold FC. Photo by Ivan Pierre Aguirre/El Paso Locomotive FC

Sandoval provided the finishing touch after a pair of outstanding passes from teammates Kalen Ryden and Harry Swartz. Ryden’s long lead ball down the left wing found Swartz in full stride, and his perfectly placed cross found a sliding Sandoval in front of an open net.

“Center backs never get enough credit for their passing, and Kalen made a great pass,” Lesesne said. “And Harry had to be perfect to get that cross in behind (El Paso goalkeeper Logan Ketterer) and it was. That was absolutely first-class.”
The goal was part of a strong outing for Sandoval, who nearly added a second tally in the 76th minute, turning quickly and firing from near the top of the box, forcing Ketter to make a diving save.
“It’s fun to see Devon show up like he does against quality opponents,” Lesesne said. “He always shows up big against El Paso.”

(Click here for match details, here for USL Championship standings.)

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