Players from the Colorado Springs Switchbacks (left) and New Mexico United battle for the ball in a Third Round matchup in the 2019 US Open Cup. Photo: Isaiah J. Downing/Switchbacks FC
On a cold rainy night, New Mexico United defeated the Colorado Springs Switchbacks for the second time in a row, this time bringing their Four Corners Cup rival’s US Open Cup run to a bitter end, 2-1.
The USL Championship Western Conference rivals faced off for the second time in 10 days, with the expansion powerhouse from New Mexico winning the league game 3-1 at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs. United, who are currently in first place in the league in their inaugural season, continued their inaugural US Open Cup campaign by defeating the last place Switchbacks in Wednesday’s Third Round matchup.
With the win, United continues to add to their Open Cup resume as they only New Mexico-based club in the Modern Era to win a tournament game.
Colorado Springs held their own in the first half, largely pushing the New Mexico side to the brink and controlling the run of play. Both teams brought their regular starters to the match, with only New Mexico captain, and former Switchback captain, Josh Suggs taking the night off.
After a scoreless first half, the Switchbacks opened the scoring early in the second half, when Jordan Burt found the lower-left hand corner to beat keeper Cody Mizzel for a goal. After taking the lead, the home-side Colorado Springs elected to play defense, often dropping nine players into the defensive third in an effort to keep the high-scoring New Mexico side from equalizing.
The plan nearly worked, with 16-year-old goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez making several spectacular saves and the defense frustrating New Mexico. Finally, in the 87th minute, former Switchback Kevaughn Frater found Chris Wehan open in front of the goal to equalize the game at 1-1, sending the match into extra time.
Extra time opened immediately with a bit of controversy. In the 93rd minute, a New Mexico player appeared to be pulled down in the box, and a penalty kick was awarded. In the ensuing rush, referee Karen Abt and Switchback midfielder Rony Argueta collided. Abt, feeling that the contact unnecessary, immediately issued Argueta a red card. New Mexico United’s Kevaugn Frater calmly converted the penalty kick to give the visitors the lead, 2-1.
The 10-man Switchbacks never managed to overcome the turn of events, and largely spent the extra 30 minutes stuck in their defensive third as New Mexico controlled the ball. New Mexico ended the night victorious, much to the delight of the 20-30 traveling supporters.
The loss is the third straight year the Switchbacks have been eliminated in the Third Round, having lost to San Antonio in 2018 in PKs, and to the Oklahoma City Energy in 2017. With the exit out of the US Open Cup, the Switchbacks continue the USL Championship season looking to improve their last play position.
New Mexico United move on to the Fourth Round in their inaugural Open Cup run where they will travel to take on MLS side Colorado Rapids.