Just one goal and a single point accumulated, but they were big ones for New Mexico United.
Chris Wehan’s redirect in the 67th minute served as the equalizer, and United came away with a 1-1 draw Saturday night in tough place to get one. New Mexico snapped a three-match losing streak by breaking even with USL Championship Western Conference-leading San Antonio FC at Toyota Field.
New Mexico (11-9-10, 43 points) solidified its hold on fifth place with four regular-season matches remaining. Sixth-place El Paso has 40 points going into a Sunday match at LA Galaxy II.
While New Mexico certainly would have preferred a victory Saturday night, a draw with the conference leaders qualified as a feather in its collective cap. SAFC (20-5-4) is 9-1-4 at home this season and had won 19 consecutive matches when scoring first.
United played San Antonio toe to toe throughout as the shots were even at 7-7 and NMU had 52% of the possession.
“We represented ourselves the right way tonight,” United coach Zach Prince said in a postgame phone interview. “I thought the last 30 minutes we dominated and put ourselves in a position to get the full three points, but that’s a positive performance on the road against a first-place team. I’m completely proud of that performance.”
Wehan enhanced his reputation as a villain for SAFC fans, scoring his seventh goal of the season to tie Neco Brett for the club lead. Wehan also netted the decisive goal in United’s playoff win in San Antonio in 2020 and scored again in NMU’s 1-0 victory at Toyota Field last season.
His goal Saturday came off a well-placed serve from Austin Yearwood from the left wing. Wehan, attacking toward the center of the penalty area, redirected the ball with his right foot toward the far post. It skimmed off the fingertips of SAFC goalkeeper Jordan Farr and into the net.
“Chris was all over the place tonight,” Prince said. “Guys were communicating and that goal was a perfect example of that. Chris made his run and just trusted Austin to put the ball in the right place.”
Defense dominated the first half with quality scoring chances few and far between. Sergio Rivas fired a topspin blast on goal in the 13th minute that Farr was able to grab, and United goalkeeper Alex Tambakis later snagged a header by Ignacio Bailone and a low shot by Cristian Parano. The score remained 0-0 at halftime.
SAFC broke through in the 54th minute when Parano flicked a ball forward to Bailone in a one-on-one position with Tambakis near the top of the box. Bailone rifled the ball home to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
But New Mexico pressed the action from there. After Wehan’s goal, Rivas had the best opportunity to break the tie but his low shot from in front deflected off the back of a sprawling defender in the 87th minute.
Things got chippy in the second half as the teams combined for 25 fouls and 6 yellow cards in the match. NMU’s players and coaches were particularly unhappy with a caution called on Kevaughn Frater after SAFC’s Jasser Khmiri was caught on camera flopping to the ground and grabbing his foot in apparent agony despite making no contact with Frater.
NM UNITED 1, SAN ANTONIO FC 1
New Mexico 0 1 — 1
San Antonio 0 1 — 1
Scoring: SA, 54th, Ignacio Bailone (Cristian Parano); NM, 67th, Chris Wehan (Austin Yearwood). Shots: NM 7, SA 7. Shots on goal: NM 2, SA 3. Corner kicks: NM 3, SA 3. Goalkeeper saves: NM (Alex Tambakis) 3, SA (Jordan Farr) 1. Records: NM 11-9-10, SA 20-5-4).