Might 15—Residence cooking may be significantly engaging — supplied one would not spill it.
New Mexico United’s long-awaited dwelling opener Saturday night time at Isotopes Park has the texture of a celebration. It will likely be United’s first regular-season look in its dwelling state in 574 days, and even gamers who had been round again in 2019 say the wait has appeared even longer.
“I am past excited,” striker and Albuquerque native Devon Sandoval mentioned. “This looks like our first-ever recreation over again.”
Granted, the joy is warranted. Coronavirus restrictions that compelled NMU to play solely on the highway final season have turn out to be more and more relaxed. Roughly 9,000 followers will likely be allowed to attend Saturday’s match in opposition to Austin Daring FC — though followers will nonetheless be required to put on face coverings and keep social distancing, New Mexico United introduced Friday.
There’s only one small element that might probably throw chilly water on Saturday’s soccer occasion. Coming off its preliminary two-match highway journey at 0-1-1, NMU wants a constructive consequence.
Coach Troy Lesesne and his gamers mentioned having a big, supportive crowd behind them brings solely constructive motivation.
“I do not suppose ‘stress’s’ the proper phrase,” defender Kalen Ryden mentioned. “We’re excited. There’s all the time stress to carry out, however that is not one thing you actually give attention to. We simply need to play effectively and get three factors.”
United got here away from final week’s match in El Paso pissed off after a Locomotive FC purpose late in stoppage time allowed the house crew to salvage a 1-1 draw.
Nonetheless, Sandoval felt NMU’s play confirmed a dramatic enchancment from the earlier week’s 1-0 loss at Rio Grande Valley.
“We began to see progress from our first match to our second match,” Sandoval mentioned. “If we will maintain constructing to this match, I really feel fairly good about issues.”
Saturday’s contest would be the season opener for Austin Daring FC, which Lesesne conceded makes for a skinny scouting report. Austin’s roster had important turnover through the offseason, forcing Lesesne and his workers to scramble for info.
Oddly sufficient, United will likely be going through an opponent making its season debut for a 3rd straight week.
“It is most difficult this week,” Lesesne mentioned. “We’re clearly very conversant in El Paso and we had some perception into Rio Grande Valley, however there’s not lots of footage on Austin. It does make it difficult, however, particularly this early within the season, we spend extra time making an attempt to give attention to what we do and making an attempt to enhance our execution.”
United had moments of excellent execution in opposition to El Paso, together with when Ryden, Harry Swartz and Sandoval collaborated on a highlight-reel purpose that, on the time, gave the guests a 1-0 lead.
Sandoval, who capped the play with a sliding shot into an open web, believes a bit dwelling cooking might assist produce extra United highlights Saturday night time.
“We really feel the followers all through the entire recreation,” Sandoval mentioned. “We really feel their vitality and it simply offers us that additional push. It will be so good to lastly have that once more.”
AUSTIN BOLD FC (0-0-0) at NEW MEXICO UNITED (0-1-1), 7:30 p.m., 101.7 FM/Estrella TV (UHF 7.2, Comcast 386)/ESPN+ (streaming)
TICKETS: Stroll-up gross sales will likely be accessible. Isotopes Park gates open at 6 p.m. Face coverings are required.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
United: Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis has been spectacular in his first two matches. He ranks sixth within the USL Championship with six saves and has made a number of eye-catching performs to interrupt up opposing scoring threats. The native of Athens, Greece, has crammed in effectively after Cody Mizell’s offseason departure to MLS. … Albuquerque’s Devon Sandoval is as soon as once more a focus of United’s offense. He transformed the crew’s first purpose of 2021 at El Paso and almost cashed in a second alternative.
Austin Daring: The crew’s 2021 roster options some important additions, significantly alongside its revamped entrance line. Ahead Sean Okoli, who performed for Orange County SC in 2020, is probably the most notable newcomer. Okoli, who has performed for a number of MLS sides, was named USL MVP in 2016 after scoring a league-best 16 objectives for FC Cincinnati. Austin’s 2020 goalkeeper, Diego Restrepo, retired, leaving newcomers Hugo Faoroux (France) and Arshia Babazadeh (Iran) as potential replacements.
Austin Daring will likely be making an attempt to defeat New Mexico in a season opener for the second straight 12 months. Andre Lima’s penalty kick within the 52nd minute gave Austin a 1-0 victory in 2020’s assembly previous to a four-month suspension of USL Championship play due to the coronavirus pandemic. United went 1-0-1 in opposition to Austin in 2019, with the groups taking part in to a 2-2 draw at Isotopes Park.