COLORADO SPRINGS — Over 800 New Mexicans took the trip up I-25 to Weidner Field to attend the first “home” game of the season after the Colorado Springs Switchbacks allowed its southern rivals to rent out their stadium.
New Mexico United allocated tickets to United fans and gave the players and fans a “home” game experience on Saturday, Sept. 19.
The stadium was set up to adhere to coronavirus guidelines — seats were spaced out, masks were required in and around the stadium, and elbows and fist bumps replaced more up close and personal celebratory gestures. Still, fans were able to come together and celebrate their club for the first time since last October.
New Mexico controlled much of the tempo in the first half as former Lobo Devon Sandoval put United ahead in the 27th minute with a cool finish in front of an open goal.
United’s momentum was abruptly halted, however, after giving up a penalty kick in the final minutes of the first half. Switchbacks forward Christian Volesky hammered home from the spot at the 47th minute of first half stoppage time, leveling the score at the break.
Coming out of the half, New Mexico was rocked. A shot from outside of the box by the Switchbacks’ Luke Ferreira blew past United’s goaltender Cody Mizell, giving Colorado Springs its first lead of the game two minutes into the second half.
The early second half goal turned out to be the dagger for New Mexico United, as it allowed Colorado Springs to sit back and dominate possession the rest of the game.
United had a few late chances as time expired but wasn’t able to put one away as Colorado Springs held on to spoil New Mexico United’s “home” opener.
Since the United Soccer League’s (USL) restart, United hasn’t been allowed to host a home game due to New Mexico’s coronavirus restrictions.
Because of the stringent public health regulations, United has been forced to play its past 13 games on the road.
Cody Teeters was one of the 800 fans of United who made the trip to watch the match.
When asked what motivated him to make the journey amidst a pandemic, Teeter said, “United is a family. During these times when we were forced away from one another and all this going on in the world, this opportunity gave us a chance to come together again as a family win or lose. We support them.”
With the loss, United’s record drops to 7-2-1 with three games remaining on the schedule. New Mexico gets a chance to return to the win column on Saturday, Sept. 26.
Nick Romero is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nicromerophoto