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THE MORNING TEA – New Mexico Finds a Home Away from Home

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 09/09/20, 7:30AM EDT


Sacramento, San Antonio make attacking additions; Andre Lewis talks about arrival in Colorado Springs

We’ve got a six-game slate of action tonight in the USL Championship, including some high-profile contests in the race for the postseason. We start today, though, with what might end up as a unique moment that comes to represent this season on and off the field. Here’s your Morning Tea for Wednesday.



New Mexico United is going “Home”.

Sort of.

On Tuesday morning, the club announced it would host its first “home game” of 2020. The venue? Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s Weidner Field, with the Switchbacks also the opponent on Saturday, September 19.

The caveat? 1,000 United fans will make up the socially-distanced crowd at the game, giving the side at least some of the backing that saw New Mexico arrive on the American soccer landscape with a bang a year ago.

It’s going to be different, but this year, what isn’t?

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring the United family together again in a safe and responsible way,” said New Mexico United President/CEO Peter Trevisani. “For a few hours next weekend, Weidner Field will become an extension of the Land of Enchantment, and we look forward to providing fans, players, and coaches with the home field experience they’ve been missing all season.

“To do that, we need your help in following COVID-safe guidelines, and working together as New Mexicans to keep each other safe and healthy.”

Once again, this is brilliant out-of-the-box thinking from an organization that has built itself and its brand around being something unique. Who else would think about figuring out a way to “host” a game 380 miles away in another state? Probably the same people who would figure out a way to get 180 fans from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Saint Paul, Minnesota via a charter airplane on three weeks notice for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup game last summer.

But beyond that, it’s a sign of the bond that exists between clubs in the Championship, which have only been strengthened over the past six months as the league navigates its way through the season.

The Switchbacks could easily have turned New Mexico’s offer down, taking the advantage of homefield and its own support at the game in what is still a live playoff race. Instead, Colorado Springs’ leadership were magnanimous and came together on United’s plan to bring its passionate support to the Switchbacks’ stadium for what might be the most unique game we’ve seen in the Championship’s history.

According to the club, there will be a mask, hand sanitizer, and a home opener flag to everyone who makes the five-and-a half hour drive north. The club is also asking all fans to sign a pledge saying they’ll behave responsibly and offering to schedule a COVID-19 test following the trip by contacting the New Mexico United office.

For fans who’ve been waiting patiently to see United in action this season, there’s already excitement building as New Mexico makes a home away from home.

“If we do it safely, if we follow the proper guidelines, I’m sure we can pull this through,” United fan Jesus Morales to KRQE’s Brittany Bade. “As long as everyone’s being safe, wearing their mask, taking their sanitizers we should all be able to have a good time there.”



New York Red Bulls II vs. Philadelphia Union II

Group F

5:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: MSU Soccer Park Predictor: NY Wins 57% | Draw 22% | PHI Wins 21%
Group F
The Gist: The New York Red Bulls II will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive as they host their first game at regular home MSU Soccer Park since the season resumed in July, with the Philadelphia Union II also in desperate need of a win at the bottom of the standings. New York suffered a 3-0 defeat in its last outing against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, and that combined with Hartford Athletic’s victory against Loudoun United over the past weekend means the Red Bulls II have to make up a 10-point gap with six games to go in the season. Victory against Philadelphia – which sits four points further back of New York in Group G – is a must for the hosts in this one.
Discipline: None

Indy Eleven vs. Sporting Kansas City II

Group E

7:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium Predictor: IND Wins 66% | Draw 21% | SKC Wins 13%
Group E
The Gist: Indy Eleven will look to return to first place in Group E as it hosts Sporting Kansas City II, and hope to jumpstart an attack that has struggled over the past month in the process. Indy fell out of first place on Saturday night after a 3-1 home defeat to rival Louisville City FC, which now sits on top of the group standings by a point going into the new week. The hosts are looking for someone to join Tyler Pasher in powering the attack, with the Canadian now having scored nine of the club’s 16 goals this season. Sporting is also looking to rebound after suffering a 3-2 loss to Saint Louis FC last Friday night, a game that saw Wilson Harris score twice, but the visitors come up short. SKC II could arrive with hopes of another upset, though, having been the side to break Indy’s 11-game regular season home winning streak earlier this season.
Discipline: None

LA Galaxy II vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Group B

10:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Dignity Health Sports Park Predictor: LA Wins 43% | Draw 27% | SD Wins 30%
Group B
The Gist: The LA Galaxy II will look to build on a victory last time out that restored the side to second place in Group B as it plays host to former Galaxy legend and current SD Loyal Head Coach Landon Donovan. Los Dos earned a split of a two-game series with Orange County SC last week as it earned a 2-1 victory on Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium. The win was the Galaxy II’s third in its last four outings as Augustine Williams and Mauricio Cuevas both found the net. Williams is now among the Championship’s leading scorers with seven tallies this season, and he’ll hope to be a handful for an SD Loyal defense that has recorded only one shutout in its last five games. San Diego has dropped off the playoff pace with five games to go in its inaugural regular season, but with a five-point gap to make up on Los Dos and OCSC this week provides a big opportunity as SD Loyal plays both sides in the next seven days.
Discipline: None

Portland Timbers 2 vs. Tacoma Defiance

Group A

10:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Providence Park Predictor: POR Wins 39% | Draw 22% | TAC Wins 38%
Group A
The Gist: Tacoma Defiance will try to maintain its upper hand on Cascadia rival the Portland Timbers 2 when the sides meet at Providence Park. Tacoma has claimed victory in each of this season’s prior two meetings, combining for seven goals and two shutouts. The second of those wins on August 3 was the last win the Defiance claimed, however, and a four-game losing streak has put them on the fringes of the playoff picture. The playoffs are no longer even mathematically within reach for T2, however, as the side has lost all 10 games of its season so far. Finding a way to down its rival on home turf would provide some consolation as the season begins to wind down for Portland.
Discipline: Portland – Carlos Anguiano (Suspended)

Real Monarchs SLC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Group C

10:00 p.m. ET |
Venue: Zions Bank Stadium Predictor: SLC Wins 49% | Draw 26% | COS Wins 25%
Group C
The Gist: Real Monarchs SLC will try to continue its last-ditch attempt to reach the Championship Playoffs as it plays host to a Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC side also in need of victory to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. The Monarchs took victory in their last outing, earning a 1-0 win against Tacoma Defiance last Friday night as Luis Arriaga scored the only goal in the first half, but its margin to second place remained at 11 points as El Paso Locomotive FC also won on the weekend. The Switchbacks, meanwhile, are undefeated in their last four games, but have draw all of them including a 0-0 result against OKC Energy FC. Sitting a point ahead of the Monarchs, Colorado Springs could still try to make a late run of its own, but a loss for either side on Wednesday night would probably be curtains for their playoff hopes.
Discipline: None

Sacramento Republic FC vs. Orange County SC

Group A

10:30 p.m. ET |
Venue: Papa Murphy’s Park Predictor: SAC Wins 35% | Draw 30% | OC Wins 35%
Group B
The Gist: Sacramento Republic FC will try to extend its five-game undefeated streak and pull level on points with Reno 1868 FC at the top of the Group A standings ahead of their meeting this Saturday, but faces an opponent in Orange County SC that is equally in need of victory as it pursues a postseason berth in Group B. OCSC is coming off a split of a two-game series against the LA Galaxy II which left both on 18 points but Los Dos ahead in second place in the standings on the total wins tiebreaker. With LA also in action on Wednesday, Orange County may need all three points to keep pace as the season enters its final stretch. Sacramento is far more certain of its playoff place thanks to its strong run during the month of August and has conceded only three goals in its five-game run to remain in touch with Reno for first place. Earning victory in what could be a playoff preview further down the line would certainly be a good confidence boost for the hosts as they forge ahead toward the postseason.
Discipline: None




- After the conclusion of their three regular-season meetings, there's still nothing to separate Austin Bold FC and FC Tulsa in the Group D standings. Tuesday night brought a 2-2 draw between the sides at Bold Stadium as Dario Suarez struck twice to continue his hot streak for Tulsa before Austin rallied back to level the game early in the second half, keeping the teams level on points and with identical records with five games to go in the regular season.

- Sacramento Republic FC has a chance to close out a playoff position this week if things fall their way, starting on Wednesday night against Orange County SC. But the Sacramento Bee’s Richard Ivanovski writes while the side is on a five-game winning streak, its inconsistency in front of goal has been a concern.

- To try and address that, Republic FC went out on Tuesday and acquired a new potential attacking threat with Frank Lopez joining the side on loan from OKC Energy FC for the rest of 2020. The Cuban has scored 27 goals in 62 games in the Championship so far in his career.

- San Antonio FC also bolstered its attacking options on Tuesday, adding Toronto FC forward Jordan Perruzza on loan. The young Canadian striker was a USL League One All-League selection and nominated for the league’s Young Player of the Year award after scoring 15 goals in 2019.

- As new loans add to sides before the roster freeze, a notable offseason loan came to an end on Tuesday as Arturo Rodriguez returned to League One’s North Texas SC from Real Monarchs SLC. The 2019 League One Most Valuable Player, Rodriguez didn’t quite find his footing with the Monarchs and had made only two appearances so far this season.

- Jamaican international Andre Lewis has been one of the important newcomers for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC this season. Speaking with Beautiful Game Network’s Carson Merk he explains how Switchbacks Head Coach Alan Koch got him to make the move back to the United States, and his love of his home country and playing for the Reggae Boyz.

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