(ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico) It’s a simple statement, but true nonetheless. One point is better than no points. While New Mexico United would have loved to come away from Saturday night’s contest against Rio Grande Valley with three points, securing the 1:1 draw did move them back to the positive side of the playoff line.
Gerson Echeverry’s Toros came into Saturday’s match with a clear strategy: stay compact on defense, and counterattack with gusto. They did just that. For nearly the entire first half, New Mexico was unable to breakdown RGV’s defense, and in the 38th minute Kevin Rodriguez was able to spring free down the left flank on a counterattack, drive deep into the box and draw a penalty. Carlos Small was able to blast the attempt past United keeper, Cody Mizell. The Toro’s lead was short lived, however. Just before the half, Manny Padilla put a pinpoint cross into the box, and Sam Hamilton’s head was waiting to put it away.
The second half was a tale of numerous opportunities from both sides, but no eventual pay dirt. In the 72nd minute, second half United sub, Kevaughn Frater shimmied and shook his way to an attempt that missed by inches and bounced off of the woodwork. In the 89th, RGV was also denied by the frame, when Juan Carlos Obregon’s sublime free kick plunked off of the crossbar.
With the LA 2, Portland and San Antonio losses on Saturday night, United moved to 10th, the final spot for playoffs. Troy Lesesne and company will spend little to no time celebrating that, as they prepare for a monumentally important road match at Tulsa next week.
NM: Hamilton (44)
RGV: Small (P, 40)
NM: Moar, 55’ (Yellow); Muhammad, 65’ (Yellow)
RGV: Junqua, 26’ (Yellow); Rodriguez, 48’ (Yellow)
NM: Possession: 62.2% Shots: 13 Shots on Goal: 4 Saves: 2 Fouls: 12 Corner Kicks: 5 Offside: 3
RGV: Possession: 37.8% Shots: 12 Shots on Goal: 3 Saves: 3 Fouls: 7 Corner Kicks: 2 Offside: 1