Three games in six days with a trip to the Big Apple thrown in just for grins is not that big an issue for New Mexico United.
At least that’s the way NMU coach Zach Prince sees it as United (10-8-4, 38 points) lines up against The Miami FC (8-7-7, 31 points) Saturday night at Isotopes Park.
“Having three games in six games doesn’t scare me,” he said. “It doesn’t scare the players. We welcome times like this where we can show what it means in adverse moments and to be resilient and to bounce back from something, a result that we didn’t want.”
Prince is referring to Wednesday’s 2-1 home loss to Sacramento – a decision that may have been disappointing but perhaps not all that surprising, although it was United’s first loss since June 25, a span of seven games.
United has developed into the USL Championship’s consummate road warriors, sporting a 7-3-2 mark away from home compared with 3-5-2 in Albuquerque.
“We talk about home records, away records. What I think about that, our overall record shows our complete team,” Prince said. “It’s not home and away.”
That being said, the coach is looking for improvement at Isotopes Park with 12 overall games remaining as teams start to jockey for playoff berths and possible home postseason matches.
“By the end of the season, we want to be really good at home, because our ultimate goal is to host a home playoff game,” he said. “And that means someone coming into New Mexico and bringing playoff soccer into New Mexico. We’re not scared to play at Isotopes Park. We enjoy playing in New Mexico and representing our state here as well as going off to New York and all these other places. Home is where we want to be, and we look forward to being good here.”
And there is no better time to start showing that than Saturday against a well-rested Miami (8-7-7) squad.
“If anything, we would be more energized by our crowd,” said midfielder Josh Suggs in discussing United’s home woes. “To be honest with you, I can’t pinpoint it. I don’t know if it’s more than one thing. It’s something that we really want to focus on being better – and it’s something we will improve on in the future.”
Miami sits in the seventh and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. It has gone 3-1-1 in its last five games and has played but one game since July 16.
Again, however, that is not a concern for New Mexico, said midfielder Daniel Bruce.
“We want more games and more games,” he said. “It’s what we desire and what we want to have. It’s enjoyable for the players.”
It’s just a matter of bringing it while between the lines.
“It’s what we love doing,” Bruce said. “We have both a responsibility to be good at what we do and we enjoy it. We have huge, brilliant levels of accountability from members of the squad from man to man, and it’s your responsibility to know your roles in the game. That is something each and every player does and has done. Every single player, whether we have one game that week or three games that week, knows their role and has a job to do. It’s their job to execute it.”
GAME DAY: THE MIAMI FC at NEW MEXICO UNITED
Saturday, 7 p.m., Isotopes Park, espn+ (streaming), Estrella TV, 101.7 FM
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The Miami FC (8-7-7): Former New Mexico United forward Romeo Parkes leads Miami with four goals and an assist in 19 games. Four other players have three goals each, while Florian Valot has five assists, which is tied for 15th in the USL Championship.
New Mexico United (10-8-4): Neco Brett leads United with seven goals and Justin Portillo has added six. Portillo, however, is third in the league in chances created with 47. Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis is tied for 10th in the league in shutouts with four.
NOTEWORTHY: New Mexico forward Sergio Rivas remains on the shelf with a leg injury suffered several weeks ago. He is improving, coach Zach Prince said, but he still does not have a definite return date. … This will be the first meeting between the cross-conference foes. … It marks the seventh first-time opponent for New Mexico this season.
(Click here for updated USL Championship standings.)