For the first time in US Open Cup history, two clubs from New Mexico had a chance to play each other on Tuesday night. Despite the freezing temperatures, and a venue change, New Mexico United was red hot as they romped to a 6-0 win over UDA Soccer from New Mexico State University.
Just as the supporters were settling into their seats at Rio Rancho High School, the USL Championship wasted no time in opening the scoring. Englishman Daniel Bruce got the chance to start after two solid performances in league play to open the year. With the opportunity in front of him, Bruce took full advantage of the minutes he was given. Inside of two minutes, with the wind whipping at his back he sent in a low cross where newcomer Jose Sosa was waiting to slide the ball past UDA keeper Mario Castillo.
For the next 30 minutes, UDA played well enough to keep United on their toes, but it wasn’t enough. In the 39th minute, United was awarded a corner and the resulting set piece saw Kyle Colonna take a hard foul from Mattias Cavallo and earn a penalty. Justin Portillo was given the opportunity to take the spot kick and slotted home to give the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
Minutes into the second half, Academy graduate Andres Robles picked the pocket of Castillo inside of his own goal area and set up Josh Dolling to tap the ball in for the first of his three goals on the evening. Dolling would later add one from the penalty spot in the 61st and complete the hat trick in the 74th, nutmegging Castillo.
“It was great for me personally to get off the mark,” said Dolling. “We’ve not had as many goals in the first two games. To get six tonight, that will give us a lot of confidence going into the next games.”
Dolling’s hat trick was the first by any player in the 2023 tournament and the first New Mexico United player to bag three goals in the competition. He is also just the third Englishman to score a hat trick in the Modern Era (1995-present), joining Dom Dwyer (2015 Sporting KC), and Chuka Aruh (2018 Inter Nashville FC).
United would also see a goal come by way of a Daniel Bruce screamer from the top of the box in the 54th. Once again, Robles was invaluable in the lead up to the goal. The pass from the young man set up Bruce, who, as is his tradition, hit a thunderous strike and buried the ball into the back of the net.
When asked about the performance of the younger players after the game, Head Coach and Technical Director Zach Prince was ecstatic. “It’s critical. It’s good for them to get a debut. Sosa, Colonna, Milo, Andres, and Miles all getting in there was excellent for them.”