HERRIMAN, Utah – Amando Moreno scored both goals as New Mexico United took a big step toward the USL Championship Playoffs with a 2-0 victory against Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday afternoon at Zions Bank Stadium. United has now won all three of its visits to the defending Championship title-holder this season and remains on top of Group C with four games remaining in its regular season.
New Mexico got out to a bright start and almost took the lead in the seventh minute. A crossfield ball into the right corner of the Monarchs end by Austin Yearwood reached David Najem, who delivered a first-time cross to the top of the six-yard area that Moreno clipped just wide of the far post.
The Monarchs, meanwhile, looked dangerous from set pieces and went close to an opening goal of their own in the 14th minute as a short corner on the left set up Jack Blake with a chance to angle his cross into the penalty area. Sam Brown got his head to the delivery but wasn’t quite able to turn it goalward as it drifted wide of the right post.
Moreno continued to supply danger for the visitors and had another effort denied two minutes later as he got onto a ball into the right side of the penalty for a turning shot back across goal that Monarchs goalkeeper David Ochoa made a good one-handed save to deny. He then got a chance at a breakaway but his low finish couldn’t find the right angle to beat Ochoa from the right of the penalty area while under pressure from a defender.
Five minutes before halftime, though, the breakthrough arrived. A chipped ball over the top found Chris Wehan breaking into the right channel alone, and while Ochoa got a piece of his initial shot, Moreno was following up to make sure the ball found the net as he beat a trailing defender to apply the finishing touch.
Real had a chance to level five minutes into the second half as Ryan Sierakowski created space for himself to shoot from a narrow angle in the left side of the penalty area only for NMU goalkeeper Cody Mizell to push the ball over the crossbar. Twenty minutes into the second half, however, Wehan sprang Moreno in behind the Monarchs’ high defensive line. Moreno calmly went around Ochoa and then slotted home his second goal of the day.
From there, neither side was able to create much in the way of attacking threat as United gradually saw out the game with a solid defensive display, earning Mizell his fourth shutout of the season and another three points for the side.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Amando Moreno, New Mexico United – Moreno recorded both goals, and up six of his seven shots overall on target while also winning 5 of 7 duels and completing 2 of 2 dribbles.