Deshorn Brown's second-half goal and Cody Laurendi's heroics in net helped OKC Energy FC battle back to earn a 1-1 draw with New Mexico United on Wednesday night at Isotopes Park, while Loudoun United FC gave its new Head Coach Ryan Martin the perfect start to his tenure at the club as Connor Presley’s late winner earned the expansion side a 3-2 victory over the Swope Park Rangers at Children’s Mercy Park.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Energy FC rallied in the second half to earn a point at New Mexico United. Chances were few and far between in a tightly-contested first half, but the home side finally broke the deadlock from a corner kick two minutes before the break when Devon Sandoval redirected Justin Schmidt’s backpost header past Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi to give his side the lead. Buoyed by the goal, New Mexico nearly got another in first-half stoppage time as the Championship’s leading scorer Kevaughn Frater played a neat give-and-go with Chris Wehan before testing Laurendi with a lunging left-footed effort. The visitors came out of the break strong and produced a chance in the opening two minutes of the second half as Rafael Garcia played Deshorn Brown behind the New Mexico defense, but the forward lost his balance and couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat NMU goalkeeper Cody Mizell. His opposite number Laurendi produced his best save of the game just shy of the hour-mark when he denied Frater again from close range with a fingertip stop that saw him also somehow control the rebound. The two teams continued to trade chances as Energy FC midfielder Alexy Bosetti just missed the bottom-left corner with a long-range effort and New Mexico’s David Estrada shot straight at an onrushing Laurendi, who got down low to deny another one-on-one chance. Energy FC found its equalizer with 17 minutes remaining as Omar Gordon set up Brown with a nifty headed flick from a throw-in and the Jamaican placed the ball past Mizell into the bottom-right corner with a first-time shot from a tight angle to quiet the home crowd. Sandoval had a chance to restore New Mexico’s advantage in the 81st minute, but the forward headed Santi Moar’s chipped pass just wide of the target with Laurendi stuck in no man’s land after coming to claim the cross. That proved to be as close as either side came to a winning goal as the teams settled for a share of the spoils.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Devon Sandoval, New Mexico United – Sandoval scored New Mexico’s lone goal, attempted five shots in total and won 11 of 21 duels as United extended its unbeaten run to six games.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Connor Presley’s 87th-minute strike helped United defeat the Rangers for its third road win of the season. The hosts had a great chance to open the scoring inside the first minute as Wilson Harris turned his defender around before testing Calle Brown with a right-footed blast from the right side of the penalty area, but the Loudoun goalkeeper reacted quickly to parry the ball to safety. The visitors produced the game’s opening goal five minutes later as Peabo Doue’s left-wing cross evaded a Rangers defender and found Kyle Murphy at the back post, where the forward produced a first-time finish that went through the legs of Swope Park goalkeeper John Pulskamp and just crossed the goalline before being cleared in vain by center back Camden Riley. The Rangers responded quickly as Felipe Hernandez’s long-range strike found the bottom-left corner in the 13th minute to tie the contest and Kaveh Rad’s close-range header from a free kick found the back of the net nearly 10 minutes later, only to be ruled out for a foul inside the penalty area. Griffin Yow restored Loudoun’s lead with six minutes remaining in the first half as he took Doue’s pass and slotted a tidy right-footed finish into the corner, but it didn’t last long as Harris headed home Alexsander Andrade’s free kick in stoppage time to send the sides to halftime tied at two. After a comparatively quiet start to the second half, Loudoun started to apply the pressure after the hour-mark as Doue and Yow both went close with efforts from outside the box and Antonio Bustamante missed a glorious chance from about eight yards out with the goal gaping. The visitors eventually made their late pressure pay off though, as Bryang Kayo slid a nifty pass through to Presley, who made no mistake with a first-time finish past Pulskamp with three minutes remaining to secure all three points for United.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Peabo Doue, Loudoun United FC – Doue assisted on Loudoun’s first two goals, recorded six recoveries and won 4 of 7 duels as United claimed a vital road victory at Children’s Mercy Park.