Chalk one up for big brother.
Chris Wehan’s goal in the 80th minute proved the match-winner for New Mexico United in a 2-1 victory over Real Monarchs SLC at Isotopes Park.
Wehan headed home a perfectly placed cross from Daniel Bruce to give New Mexico its second straight home victory in front of an announced 7,564 fans. The goal also gave United (8-8-7) a much-needed three points and prevented Wehan’s younger brother, Charlie, from claiming bragging rights.
The younger Wehan banged in an equalizing goal for Real Monarchs in the 50th minute, one that began to look like it might be the evening’s final tally as United launched a slew of shots off posts, goalkeeper Jeff Dewsnup’s hands, and into the crowd – seemingly everywhere but into the net.
Until the elder Wehan broke through in his first head-to-head game against his brother.
“Pretty special,” Chris Wehan said. “It was weird because I like to consider myself one of (Charlie’s) biggest fans. I didn’t want to root for him tonight, but it was pretty cool playing against him.”
Chris smiled when asked if he felt pressure to match his brother’s goal.
“Yeah, a little bit,” he said. “That was actually a great goal for him and I had some chances that I missed. I was actually about as frustrated as I’d been all season but instead of focusing on that I just told myself to run hard. I knew Brucey would do his job and I had to be there.”
United outshot the visitors 26-7, putting nine on target to Real Monarchs’ 1, but the home side had to work to the final whistle to put away a victory.
“Our generation of chances was fantastic,” coach Troy Lesesne said, “but not enough of them resulted in goals. We still have things to work on, but it’s always good to win.”
Amando Moreno scored the first goal for United, cashing in after some impressive footwork near the top of the box in the 48th minute. He celebrated briefly with his wife and father, who were in the stands.
United fans were still celebrating when Charlie Wehan got behind New Mexico’s defense and rolled a hard shot just past goalkeeper Alex Tambakis in the 50th minute to make it 1-1.
The next 29 minutes were a study in frustration for NMU, which had 61% of the possession and created chance after chance in front of Dewsnup.
Devon Sandoval banged an open opportunity off the crossbar in the 51st minute, then lined up for a penalty kick 2 minutes later after Bruce was pulled down in the box. Dewsnup stopped Sandoval’s low kick to keep the score 1-1.
Dewsnup followed up with a terrific save on Josh Suggs’ header in the 67th minute, and Dewsnup was bailed out by each of his posts shortly after Chris Wehan’s go-ahead goal. Chelo Martinez fired a shot off the right post, that rebounded to Wehan, who hit the left post in spite of a wide-open net.
But on a night when United might easily have scored five goals, United made two stand up. NMU’s defense effectively prevented the Monarchs from threatening through the final minutes of regulation and seven minutes of stoppage time.
“This was the first step we needed to take,” Moreno said. “I thought we started well and really kept the pressure up all night. This is how we have to play the rest of the season.”
NOTES: United was without Sergio Rivas, who is considered day-to-day with a lower body injury. …
Midfielder Harry Swartz underwent successful surgery for a sports hernia earlier this week and will miss the rest of the season, Lesesne said.