New Mexico United played their final game of the regular season on Friday, Oct. 13 against Memphis 901. New Mexico took the match with a dominant scoring of 4-1, and with that final score, United will be attending the 2023 United Soccer League Championship playoffs.
United came into the match off the back of a 2-1 win over Phoenix Football Club but still only had a seven percent chance to make it to the playoffs. They proved this statistic wrong.
The match started strong for United with the first goal in the third minute by Harry Swartz. From there, the boys in black and gold kept up on the offensive, even on defense. United’s goalie – Andrew Thomas – was scrappy.
By the 12th minute, United’s newest member, Zico Bailey, secured the second goal of the game – a beautiful shot right between the opposing goalie’s legs.
United was solid in their form throughout the rest of the first half, securing a 2-0 lead. Coach Eric Quill was extremely pleased with the night’s turnout.
“It’s amazing how we started the game with that first goal. It got the crowd behind us from the get-go, and it was a set plan that worked out perfectly,” Quill said.
Memphis is from the Eastern conference and is known for being one of the top teams in the league. They came out the second half of the match wanting a comeback. Carson Vom Steeg (#3) scored the goal within the first five minutes, but that was all Memphis would find against our boys in black and gold.
The first half started off well but the second half cemented the fact that United has the firepower to stand with the best in the league. All the players on the field worked their best with defense constantly keeping the ball out of the box and never letting the opposition get a chance to score. Then, the team’s offence brought the heat.
Only 10 minutes after Vom Steeg’s goal, United’s Greg Hurst had a spectacular shot that secured the third goal for his team, but that wasn’t all for Hurst. He only needed another 10 minutes to send the ball flying past Memphis’ goalie, securing what would be the final score of 4-1.
“I had the feeling tonight that I would get my chance to show the club, the fans – everyone – that I’m still here and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Hurst said.
Before this match, Hurst had only seen four goals this year.
Along with Swartz, Hurst and Bailey, Amando Moreno had two assists in the game. Moreno said he’s been on a path of redemption for himself and for the club for the last year after recovering from an injury.
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“With this mentality that we’ve been working on and the firepower that we got to show off tonight, I know – and it should be clear to everyone – that we can go on to win the tournament,” Moreno said.
The Isotopes stadium was filled with the largest crowd it’s seen all year with a record attendance of 11,385 fans. Fans came out to be the fire in the belly, giving the players on the field the motivation they deserve.
Alongside the fans, not even a falsely set off fire alarm was enough to deter the players. This was due to the amount of smoke bombs released for each of the four goals.
United held strong and refused to play passive, even with four goals under their belt. The passion ran so strong that United got ahead of themselves, being called for offsides nine times in the match.
Once the three stoppage minutes were called, everyone knew what was going to happen. United took their foot off the gas and let themselves coast to a clinical win.
In celebration, fans stayed in the stands long after the match ended to watch the fireworks show and to get their merchandise signed by players. United will be going to the playoffs, but first they will have to see who their opponents are after the weekend’s matches.
Moreno, Hurst and Quill all said that now is when the work really begins.
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @BillyJackDL
BillyJack Davidson is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached on Twitter @BillyJackDL