Two goals and an assist from Alex Waggoner, and another goal from Javier Trujillo saw New Mexico United take fifth place in the nation at the 2022 USL Academy Playoffs in Tampa. Waggoner, who’s two additional tallies took him to six on goals scored in the tournament, earned the Golden Boot as the top scorer of the postseason. This is the second time in two seasons that a United player has taken home hardware – Cristian Nava won the tournament’s Golden Ball in 2021 as its most outstanding player.
“It feels good,” said Waggoner. “It’s something that I knew was kind of a part of this, so that was kind of in the background… (Today) I really wanted to let off some steam from yesterday, and the day before that. That was the main thing today, and then once they told me that if I scored today, I could get the Golden Boot, I thought ‘Let’s do it!’ I always want to score, whether there is an award, or not.”
United was dominant throughout the rainy affair, scoring their first goal through Trujillo in the 13th minute, and never looking back. Waggoner chipped the ball high toward the back post, and Trujillo met it and the post at the same time, catching a bit of the woodwork, but powering the ball past the San Antonio FC keeper for a 1-0 lead.
Thirteen minutes later, Waggoner put pressure on the goalkeeper, forcing a bobble that he quickly pounced on and tucked home to double the advantage. United’s third goal of the afternoon – Waggoner’s second – was on a direct free kick at the top of the box. His right-footed strike curled over the wall and into the top corner for the final 3-0 margin.
The win secures a top-five-in-the-nation finish for United Academy for the second time in their two years of existence, as the free-to-play Academy made up entirely of New Mexicans continues to show the footballing world what our state is made of.