It's all United vs. depleted Phoenix, 7-0 - Albuquerque Journal

It’s all United vs. depleted Phoenix, 7-0

This one did not follow anyone’s script.
Three days after it was originally scheduled and at an alternate site, New Mexico United set a franchise record for goals Tuesday night in a 7-0 rout of short-handed Phoenix Rising FC.
A large crowd at the University of New Mexico soccer stadium had plenty to cheer about. Albuquerque native Cristian Nava scored his first career goal, Albuquerque native Devon Sandoval made his return from a heart issue, and the home side was in control from the outset.
“It feels amazing,” NMU midfielder Justin Portillo said after registering two goals (his first with United) and an assist. “It was weird having the game canceled Saturday and having this quick turnaround, but there was a lot of energy here. It was an exciting night.”
Rising FC, which defeated New Mexico twice earlier this season in Arizona, undoubtedly would beg to differ. Saturday’s match, set to be played in front of 11,000-plus fans at Isotopes Park, was postponed because of COVID-19 issues within Phoenix’s core group.
Rising showed up Tuesday without a number of key players, some of whom remained in isolation protocols. The missing starters included goalkeeper Ben Lundt and former United striker Santi Moar. Phoenix (6-5-0) was forced to fill the holes in its lineup with reserves and academy players, and the patchwork lineup was no match for New Mexico (4-2-4).
“It was tough for Phoenix,” United coach Zach Prince said.
 “It reminds me of 2020 for us, when we had to play the whole season on the road and had a lot of adversity. For us, I’m just glad we started fast and kept the pressure on.”
NMU was without leading goal scorer Neco Brett and defender Carl Sainte, both of whom were called up to join their respective national teams (Jamaica and Haiti). It hardly mattered.
Chris Wehan scored on a free kick from just outside the penalty area in the sixth minute, firing a blast through the defensive wall that goalkeeper Edward Delgado apparently never saw until it was in the net. Wehan’s second goal in as many matches effectively opened the floodgates.
Three minutes later, Wehan was taken down in the penalty area. Portillo banged in the resulting penalty kick to make it 2-0, and he was just getting warmed up. In the 18th minute, Portillo lofted a serve to the back post on a well-executed set piece, and Harry Swartz headed the ball in to make it 3-0.
Portillo added another penalty kick in the 30th minute to make the score 4-0 at halftime.
“The first thing that was important to me was that we start the game fast and make them feel our pressure,” Prince said. “We did that — and we ended up scoring goals on top of it.”
It remained 4-0 until the 75th minute, when a serve into the box by Daniel Bruce was knocked in for an own goal.
Fans then came to their feet in the 78th minute, when Nava broke through the defense on a lead pass from Sergio Rivas and eluded Delgado to score his first professional goal.
“I’m very happy to get it at home in front of the fans,” Nava said. “Having so many people here to support us felt great.”
Bruce completed the scoring with a shot from the left wing on a pass from Nava in the 82nd minute.
United’s seven goals eclipsed the previous record of  five, scored three years ago against Real Monarchs.
NOTES: Attendance was not available Tuesday as tickets sold for Saturday’s match were honored at the gate. UNM’s stands, which seat roughly 6,200, were largely filled but not to capacity. … Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis was not often tested but moved into second place in USLC career saves and into a tie for sixth in career clean sheets.


Phoenix        0   0 — 0
New Mexico    4   3  —7
Scoring: 6th, NM, Chris Wehan; 10th, NM, Justin Portillo (penalty kick); 18th, NM, Harry Swartz (Portillo); 30th, NM, Portillo (penalty kick; 75th, NM, Daniel King (own goal); 78th, NM, Cristian Nava (Sergio Rivas); 82nd, NM, Daniel Bruce (Nava). Shots: NM 25, P 2. Shots on goal: NM 9, P 1. Corner kicks: NM 8, P 0. Goalkeeper saves: P (Edwyn Delgado) 3, NM (Alex Tambakis) 1. Records: NM 4-2-4, P 6-5-0.


(Click here for updated USL Championship standings.)


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