New Mexico United emphatically bested Western Conference opponent Monterey Bay FC in front of 9,851 fans who braved a rainy forecast. Goals from Chris Wehan and Tabort Etaka Preston just one minute apart sealed the deal for New Mexico, who move up into fourth place in the USL Championship Western Conference – in-line to host a playoff match for the first time in their history – pending the result of later matches across the league.
Alexis Souahy was nearly the first on the scoresheet for United, as Kalen Ryden found Alexis Souahy at the back post after collecting a wayward corner kick. Souahy nearly headed home, but couldn’t beat the keeper, and the match remained level. Preston nearly converted on two additional chances, before Chris Wehan opened the scoring in the 38th minute for New Mexico, who had dominated the pace and tenor of the match up to that point. A free kick on the left side of the top of the box had Wehan’s name written all over it, and he delivered in an emphatic way. His right-footed curler cleared the wall and found the upper corner of the goal frame for a 1-0 lead, sending Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park into a frenzy.
The smoke bombs from Wehan’s goal hadn’t even cleared when Preston doubled the lead for the home side. He picked up a loose ball near center pitch and drove forward on his own, blazing past two defenders and hitting a slow roller that wrong-footed the keeper and reignited the crowd once again.
Following the two goals, United held strong defensively, seeing out long-range attacks from Monterey and earning the clean sheet. United held Monterey without a shot on goal on the evening.