Mental errors doom United in 2-1 defeat

New Mexico United’s travels beyond the Mississippi River continue to confuse the club. Some mental errors in the first half put the club in an initial deficit from which they could not escape before falling to a 2-1 final score.

United should have felt confident heading into Memphis. Coming off a home win and returning to their best health all season, it should have been a good night for three points. Instead, United fell behind early due to a major mental error in their own area and were unable to regain their footing, literally and figuratively, in the first half.

Despite looking like the better team and having more tackles in the final third, United couldn’t find the back of the net. Harry Swartz worked on the right wing from the first minutes and tried to find Daniel Bruce in the center of the area. One of those opportunities came in the 10th minute. Swartz’s ball seemed perfect for Bruce, but his leg went over the ball and avoided any danger.

The first mental error proved extremely costly for United. In the 11th, after Memphis played the ball over the top, instead of letting it run out, Alex Tambakis picked it up and proceeded to pass it to Talen Maples. Maples, who had not been paying attention after the ball went over his head, seemed to think the referee had wasted the play for a goal kick. That made the center back pick up the ball thinking he was going to restart and gave a penalty. Bruno Lapa was sent on the mark, and when Tambakis went to his left, Lapa went the other direction to convert and take the lead, 1-0.

United continued to try to work the right side of the field from the outside in, but the attacks continued to fail. There were opportunities, but the failures were due to slips, poorly played balls or simply bad connections.

In the 34th minute, the locals doubled their advantage. This time Lapa was able to move the ball down the left wing and diverted attention from the small area. In open space, Lucas Turci found space between Anthony Herbert and the goal. Turci turned and fired, knocking down Tambakis and doubling the lead, 2-0.

It wouldn’t change much in the second half. United kept pressing and looked like they were the better team. The second half even saw the return of Kalen Ryden and Sergio Rivas as Quill did his best to try and match his team. Ryden came onto the field and played in a position he hadn’t been seen in for quite some time. Replacing Daniel Bruce, Ryden took the top spot alongside Greg Hurst.

United kept trying to cross the ball into the area, but couldn’t find enough space to connect, turn and shoot. It wasn’t until the 87th minute that United had a glimmer of hope. After stealing the ball deep in United’s defensive third, Hurst charged up the field, splitting the defenders. After his break did not result in a goal, Hurst ended up with the ball again to the left of the goal. This time, he shot himself, the first being deflected by Tyler Deric and back to Hurst, who shot left footed again, this time off the goalkeeper and into the net to cut the lead, 2-1.

That was the closest they got. They didn’t have a serious goal threat in the final minutes of regulation or extra time as they fell on the road again.

Player of the match

Bruno Lapa – The Memphis midfielder had a field day against United. With a goal and an assist under his belt, Lapa was difficult for United to handle all night. He nearly scored a third goal late in the second half that would have iced the game, but a save from Tambakis kept United within striking distance.

Until next time

United returns home for a series of matches, the first of which will be an international friendly against FC Juárez of Liga MX on Wednesday, June 19. Coverage of that game will begin at 6 p.m. with the pregame show on ESPN Radio 101.7 FM The TEAM, The TEAM website and TEAM apps. Adam Diehl and Andy Hageman will be on the airwaves during pregame, as well as every minute of every play once the game begins at 7 p.m.