Pride week at Isotopes Park, also known as "The Lab," was a rough one for New Mexico United.
"The Lab" had been kind to the New Mexico United club — so kind, in fact, that the squad entered Saturday's match undefeated on its home pitch, after a draw on Wednesday. But perfection isn't usually a sustainable model, and that unbeaten streak finally came to an end.
United suffered its first home loss ever, which was also its first shutout loss of the season — falling 3-0 to Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday evening.
New Mexico United goalkeeper Cody Mizell made a couple of early saves in the match, preventing Sacramento from breaking through in the opening stages.
Cameron Iwasa was able to tally the first goal of the match after United was whistled for a foul in the box. He got Mizell to guess incorrectly as the keeper laid out to his right and saw the ball get directed to the opposite side and find its way into the net at the 31:17 mark.
New Mexico found itself in unfamiliar territory, looking up on the scoreboard and still trailing 1-0 after 45 minutes of play. But United nearly found the equalizer after the teams returned to the field.
United got a couple of good looks early in the second half, but came up empty on multiple occasions.
With United on the attack, Austin Yearwood crossed the ball into the box and set up teammate Ken Akamatsu for a promising scoring opportunity. The midfielder uncorked a hard strike toward the right side of the goal, but the ball ricocheted off the post and kept the score in tact.
Sacramento's keeper was able to notch another save just minutes later, but was still nursing a 1-0 advantage in the late stages of the match.
Republic FC got some more breathing room in the 77th minute after Matt Mahoney headed home a Ray Saari cross with pinpoint accuracy. Saari's pass was nearly perfect and, although Mizell seemed to track the pass and find an angle to defend, Mahoney directed the ball just past the outstretched right arm of the NM United keeper.
With the game's outcome pretty much all but certain, Iwasa removed all doubt when he found the back of the net for his second goal of the night just prior to the 90 minute mark.
A New Mexico defender slid in and attempted to clear the ball, but was unable to do so. The ball eventually found its way to Drew Skundrich, who was darted down the left side of the field. He patiently advanced and drew in a United defender before dropping the ball off for Isawa, allowing him to blast it into the upper right corner for a 3-0 lead.
United had one more chance at avoiding the shutout about four minutes into stoppage time, but was unable to cash in the opportunity as the 3-0 score held.
The loss dropped New Mexico United's record to 6-2-7 overall, though it was able to maintain its lead in the Western Conference standings, just two points clear of Phoenix Rising FC, which is on a four-match winning streak.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball and baseball and contributes content for various other sports as well. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler