Early defensive gaffe hurts NM United - Albuquerque Journal

Early defensive gaffe hurts NM United

New Mexico United’s Kalen Ryden, right rear, goes up for a header against a Rio Grande Valley defender during their game at Isotopes Park on Saturday night.
Mike Sandoval/For the Journal

One point at a time is not the kind of pace New Mexico United needs these days.

With regular-season opportunities dwindling fast, United did not significantly improve its playoff chances Saturday night, playing to a 1-1 draw with Rio Grande Valley FC at Isotopes Park.

It was the second draw in four nights for NMU (10-9-9), which managed just two points from a two-match home stand and finished the evening tied with Austin Bold for fourth place – the final playoff position – in the USL Championship’s Mountain Division. RGVFC (10-10-8) is one point behind in sixth place.

The big problem for New Mexico and Rio Grande Valley is that each has four matches remaining. Austin Bold has six still to play.

United coach Troy Lesesne and his players acknowledged the tough playoff path they now face, but none is about to throw in the towel.

“We have no choice but to push on,” said Chris Wehan, who scored New Mexico’s goal Saturday. “We have four games left and we don’t know beyond that, but we get to play soccer and we will go give everything we have.”

United hurt its playoff cause with a self-inflicted wound Saturday. A sloppy defensive turnover in the penalty area effectively gifted the Toros a goal in the sixth minute. Kyle Edwards accepted the giveaway and tapped a pass to Elvis Amoh, who easily booted the ball into an open net.

It was the only shot on target all night for Rio Grande Valley, and Lesesne referred to it as a giveaway.

New Mexico United’s Josh Suggs, right, gets past Rio Grande Valley’s Juan Carlos Azocar during Saturday’s match at Isotopes Park. The two USL rivals played to a 1-1 draw.
Roberto E. Rosales/Journal

“(Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis) has been great all year and our back line has been solid for the most part,” Lesesne said. “We take a lot of pride in that, but we have to take ownership for the ones we give up, too. Self-inflicted goals hurt.”

New Mexico came up with an answer for its early miscue in the 24th minute. Sergio Rivas made a nice move at the top of the box and hit Wehan with a nice lead pass on the right wing. He promptly blasted a high shot into the net for his 10th goal of the season and a 1-1 score.

But even a raucous crowd of 6,934 waving complimentary red New Mexico Chiles flags could not spur the home team to another goal. New Mexico finished with 62% of the possession but managed just six shots, two on target, in the match.

“Possession is great, but it has to materialize into chances,” Lesesne said. “Rio Grande Valley is a tough team to break down, but two shots on goal is not good enough.”

Tambakis, whose hopes for an eighth clean sheet were thwarted by the early defensive mistake, agreed.

“We have to start well, not give up an easy one,” he said. “That’s easy to say, but we have to actually do it. Now everyone just has to stay positive and focus on what’s next.”

New Mexico now gets an eight-day break before playing at San Diego Union on Oct. 17.

“San Diego is a playoff match,” Lesesne said. “Austin has two games in hand, but they still have to get it done. We’ll stay positive and keep pushing.”


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

Nativo Sponsored Content

Ad Tango

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
Fathers know best -- or do they? 3 new ...
College
If you haven't heard, new Lobo ... If you haven't heard, new Lobo men's basketball coach Richard Pitino has a dad who also dabbles in c ...
2
New Mexico State hopes that realignment leads to opportunity
College
LAS CRUCES – New ... LAS CRUCES – New Mexico State's leadership finds itself in another college sports realignmen ...
3
Lobo senior defender Noble lives up to expectations
College
SATURDAY: UNM at Wyoming, 1:30 p.m., ... SATURDAY: UNM at Wyoming, 1:30 p.m., 770 AM/96.3 FM, streaming at Stadium When University of New Mexico senior Joey Noble heard that coach Danny ...
4
Sports Speak Up! On soccer stadiums and UNM football
Featured Sports
IT'S SIMPLE. The reason I'm voting ... IT'S SIMPLE. The reason I'm voting 'NO' for the new stadium is because Soccer is Terrible. — JRM-Corrales I CONSIDER THIS year Danny Gonzales' ...
5
Preseason poll has Lobos eighth; Pitino didn't know and ...
College
Richard Pitino apparently didn't get the ... Richard Pitino apparently didn't get the memo.It's OK. It wasn't one he exactly cared ...
6
United earns key comeback victory
Featured Sports
Purple smoke drifted over the stadium ... Purple smoke drifted over the stadium and a full moon was rising as Wednesday night's New Mexico Uni ...
7
Commissioner says Mountain West is happy to stay with ...
College
As college athletics is taking another ... As college athletics is taking another spin on the 'every couple of years conference realignment' ca ...
8
New Mexico to try to end 5-game skid with ...
College
Mired in an offensive slump, the ... Mired in an offensive slump, the University of New Mexico football team will look to i ...
9
Rick Wright: Fight shows Perez needs to be in ...
Boxing/MMA
Like many people, Aaron Angel Perez ... Like many people, Aaron Angel Perez could stand to drop a few pounds. But not for the same reason as ...