New Mexico United rallied from a first-half deficit to advance to the Quarterfinals of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a 2-1 win against FC Dallas on Wednesday night. | Photo courtesy Matt Begala / FC Dallas
New Mexico United’s historic inaugural season continued Wednesday night when they took down MLS side FC Dallas 2-1 at Westcott Field on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The two sides traded goals in the first half, but it was New Mexico defender Sam Hamilton’s 64th minute strike that made the difference and sent the visitors through to the Quarterfinals.
United head coach Troy Lesesne put the win into perspective after the game.
“It gives us a ton of credibility, not only in the USL Championship but then across the landscape in North American soccer and it allows the state of New Mexico to dream … now we open up a different world for our state and I love that.”
Hamilton concurred with his coach.
“It’s big for the players trying to make the jump and it’s just big for a first time organization to go this far into the Open Cup.”
Neither team is likely a stranger to the summer heat, but the temperature of 96 degrees (heat index over 100) at kickoff may have had something to do with the game’s slow start. Neither side registered a shot until the 15th minute and the first shot on goal – courtesy of Dallas’ Dominique Badji – didn’t arrive until the 30th minute. To drive the point home, there were three shots on goal in the first 40 minutes and two of them came from Dallas right back Ryan Hollingshead from outside the box.
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But then in the 41st minute, Dallas’ Brandon Servania broke free on the corner kick and got on the end of Barrios’ service, firing home a rocket from just outside the box. The assist from Barrios was the fourth of his career in the US Open Cup.
New Mexico needed just four minutes to respond as Kevaughn Frater found himself at the right place at the right time and converted from inside the six yard box after Dallas keeper Jimmy Maurer failed to secure the initial shot on goal. Frater’s goal was his third in the 2019 tournament and the fourth of his career.
The visitors picked up a free kick opportunity in a dangerous area in stoppage time, but failed to make it count and the game went into halftime even at 1-1.
The second half picked up right where the end of the first left off. Two minutes after the break, Barrios found himself free in the box, only for his centering pass to be cleared for a corner. New Mexico came back in the 54th minute with a shot from inside the box by Daniel Bruce, but it didn’t clear the crowd of Dallas defenders. Dallas made the first change in the 58th minute with Paxton Pomykal replacing 16-year-old Ricardo Pepi, who didn’t look quite as sharp as he did in his debut in Round 4 when he went the full 90 and recorded an assist.
Then in the 64th minute, New Mexico earned a free kick near the corner flag and, after some ping-ponging inside the box, Hamilton’s shot squeezed through to put the visitors up 2-1. Six minutes later, Frater went down and needed treatment but would ultimately stay in the game.
Pomykal made his presence felt in the 74th minute with a slick run into the box, but his centering ball couldn’t get directed on frame. He put a shot on goal himself in the 82nd minute, only to be denied by New Mexico keeper Cody Mizell, who Lesesne called “an absolute rock for us.”
Dallas continued to make inroads, mostly through Barrios out wide, but Hamilton and the New Mexico defense stood tall and made no mistakes to help their side secure the win and move on.
“I think that we were under some pressure, but we handled that pressure well and just grinded out a fantastic victory and a historic moment for our club”, said Lesesne of his team’s defensive effort throughout the match.
New Mexico United continue to represent their state well this season. They are the second team from the state of New Mexico to ever reach the quarterfinals and the first to do so in the Modern Era (1995-present); the New Mexico Chiles made it all the way to the Semifinals in 1991. In Round 2 this year, United became the first New Mexico side in the Modern Era to even advance in the Open Cup. In Round 3 they became the first New Mexico side to win a game in the Open Cup. And in Round 4 they became the first side from the state to beat an MLS side. Now they have two such victories and they’ll look to make it three when they travel north on July 10 to meet Minnesota United in the Quarterfinals.