Three was the number of the day for New Mexico United on Sunday — for better and worse.
Amando Moreno scored two goals, Justin Portillo added a goal and an assist and United played to a 3-3 road draw with San Diego Loyal SC at sold-out Torero Stadium.
New Mexico certainly would have preferred three points for a victory as the result left United one notch below the playoff line in the USL Championship’s Western Conference. On the other hand, the point left NMU’s fate very much in its own hands with two home matches coming this week.
United (11-9-12, 45 points) is in eighth place but just a point behind Rio Grande Valley, Oakland and El Paso, all with 46 points but just one match remaining. New Mexico hosts LA Galaxy II in a rescheduled match Wednesday and entertains Colorado Springs Switchbacks in Saturday’s regular-season finale.
“It all comes down to these two matches,” United coach Zach Prince said. “I like where our mindset is, we’re definitely not scared of the moment, and we can’t wait for Wednesday night in front of our fans.”
With the exception of missing out on three points, threes were wild for United on Sunday. It was New Mexico’s third consecutive draw and its third draw in as many meetings with San Diego (18-9-6).
On a more positive note, NMU’s three goals were the most it has scored since a 7-0 rout of Phoenix on May 24 and the second most it has scored all season.
“Putting three goals in the back of the net is excellent,” Prince said, “and we’re creating chances in a lot of different ways. For Amando to come here and play the way he did was incredible. He showed incredible focus.”
Moreno suffered a torn ACL in a late-season game at Torero Stadium last season and missed the first half of 2022 in rehab. He was a factor in all three of United’s goals on Sunday, including the first just 90 seconds into the match.
Moreno was taken down attempting to shoot on a rebound attempt, earning a penalty, which Portillo converted for his seventh goal of the season. He is tied with Neco Brett and Chris Wehan for the club lead.
Second-place Loyal SC followed with two goals, but United got even on a well-executed tally. Harry Swartz headed the ball in front, where Moreno banged it home to make it 2-2 at halftime.
Moreno made it 3-2 with a blast from just outside the box in the 47th minute, but Thomas Amang knocked home a rebound off a free kick five minutes later to even the score.
NEW MEXICO UTD 3, SAN DIEGO LOYAL SC 3
New Mexico 2 1 — 3
San Diego 2 1 — 3
Scoring: NM, 2nd, Justin Portillo (penalty kick); SD, 24th, Charlie Adams (penalty kick); SD, 28th, Alejandro Guido; NM, 40th, Amando Moreno (Harry Swartz); NM, 47th, Moreno (Portillo); SD, 52nd, Thomas Amang. Shots: SD 14, NM 12. Shots on goal: SD 5, NM 5. Corner kicks: SD 4, NM 6. Goalkeeper saves: SD (Duran Michael Ferree) 2, NM (Alex Tambakis) 2. Records: SD 18-9-6, NM 11-9-12.