Aug. 14—Suffice it to say it has been some time.
New Mexico United will finish a 13-day break and play simply its second match in a three-week span Saturday evening when rival El Paso Locomotive FC visits Isotopes Park.
It is a troublesome and necessary matchup for United, which has fallen out of playoff place throughout its day without work the pitch. NMU (6-6-4, 22 factors) enters the match in sixth place within the USL Championship’s tightly contested Mountain Division however loads of time stays to do one thing about that.
New Mexico is properly behind first-place El Paso (11-1-4 with a league-best 37 factors) however simply three factors behind third-place Colorado Springs. United is midway by its 32-match schedule and has performed fewer matches than 4 of its divisional rivals.
Nonetheless, there’s urgency for coach Troy Lesesne and his gamers to begin constructing momentum — notably on the offensive finish. NMU has not scored in its final three matches (0-1-2) and is mired in a 308-minute dry spell since its final aim. Partly due to its quiet latest schedule, United hasn’t put a ball within the internet since a 2-1 win over Charleston on July 12.
Breaking the drought in opposition to El Paso doesn’t determine to be straightforward. The Locos have allowed simply 10 objectives all season and have posted eight clear sheets — each league-best marks. New Mexico and EPFC battled to a scoreless draw of their most up-to-date assembly three weeks in the past at Isotopes Park.
“The final recreation I believe was a mirrored image of us taking part in El Paso 13 occasions in three years,” Lesesne stated. “The most effective scoring probabilities have been set items as a result of we type of must be scrappy and consider issues which can be off the web page somewhat bit. It will be like that once more this weekend. It will be a tough recreation.”
The upside of coming off an extended break is United has had time to relaxation and fine-tune its sputtering assault. Lesesne stated his staff labored on including a number of new wrinkles however was extra centered on constructing communication and chemistry on the sector.
“Clearly we have to have extra probability creation and we should be extra harmful,” he stated. “We have labored fairly a bit on that.”
New Mexico’s protection has been stingy of late, posting back-to-back shutouts in opposition to El Paso and Tacoma, with each matches ending in scoreless attracts.
“Fairly strong performances defensively,” defender Austin Yearwood stated. “Clearly we need to create extra probabilities offensively, like Troy stated, however the final two matches have been actually good constructing blocks.”
United hopes to take advantage of a two-match homestand to begin the season’s second half. New Mexico hosts Oakland Roots SC on Wednesday and has a possibility to make a fast climb within the divisional race.
“Enjoying at residence with a loud crowd actually does give us that additional edge,” midfielder Sergio Rivas stated. “We’re fairly enthusiastic about having the subsequent two video games right here.”
Defender David Najem, who just lately rejoined United after taking part in with the membership throughout its 2020 season on the highway, agreed.
“I lastly get to play in entrance of our followers,” Najem stated. “Man, I can not wait.”
NOTE: Midfielder Harry Swartz, who has missed six matches with a “decrease physique” harm, can be accessible to return to motion Saturday, Lesesne stated.
GAME DAY: EL PASO LOCOMOTIVE FC AT NEW MEXICO UNITED
Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Isotopes Park, 101.7 FM/ESPN+ (streaming)/Estrella TV
PLAYERS TO WATCH
El Paso (11-1-4): As one may suspect, Locomotive FC has posted spectacular
numbers in each division. Forwards Luis Solignac and Diego Luna have mixed for 11 objectives and 6 assists to spotlight the Locos’ assault. However New Mexico followers usually tend to deal with midfielder Yuma Monsalvez. who performs a key position with out successful any on-the-field recognition contests. Vocal and demonstrative, Monsalvez was booed steadily throughout EPFC’s July 24 go to to Albuquerque. He leads his staff with 973 passes, a 92% accuracy charge and 5 yellow playing cards.
New Mexico (6-6-4): New Mexico’s assault clearly wants a spark, however the protection has made essentially the most of issues with back-to-back clear sheets to remain within the Mountain Division’s playoff hunt. Goalkeeper Alex Tambakis and the again line rank fifth within the USL Championship with 18 objectives conceded and stand sixth with 5 shutouts. The latest addition of defender David Najem strengthens a unit that might want to excel in opposition to proficient El Paso. Tambakis is tied for eleventh within the league with 40 saves. Kalen Ryden has a team-best 57 clearances.
NOTEWORTHY: Saturday’s match is the final of 4 between New Mexico and El Paso throughout this common season. EPFC gained one of many first three. with two ending in attracts. The rivals are 2-2-6 in common and postseason matchups total. Together with preseason matches, they’ve met 13 occasions over three seasons. … United gamers will sport new black-and-white Meow Wolf jerseys for Saturday’s match. … As of Friday afternoon, roughly 8,500 tickets had been offered for Saturday’s match. NMU ranks second in USL common residence attendance (8,479 followers) to Louisville (9,741).