AUSTIN, Texas – A penalty kick inside the final 15 minutes by Xavi Baez lifted Austin Bold FC to a 1-0 victory against New Mexico United at Bold Stadium on Friday night and into third place in the USL Championship’s Mountain Division as the hosts took a second consecutive victory to boost their hopes of returning to the USL Championship Playoffs.
Bold FC settled into the contest quickly and almost took the lead in the fourth minute when Omar Gordon found space on the right to deliver a low angled cross to the top-left corner of the six-yard area where Stefano Pinho’s finish went into the near side-netting. Austin built on its early momentum to carry more of the play and threatened again midway through the first half as a timely interception by New Mexico defender Austin Yearwood denied a chance for Pinho to put home a low cross from the left by Collin Fernandez.
New Mexico got another timely defensive intervention in the 31st minute when Gordon intercepted a pass in the attacking third for Bold FC and beat United goalkeeper Alex Tambakis with a low shot, only for Kalen Ryden to slide in and block the shot inside the six-yard area. The ball came back to Gordon, who was denied a second time by Tambakis before the visitors were able to clear to safety.
United struggled to create a clear-cut chance in the opening half with their lone shot by Devon Sandoval being blocked, but New Mexico came out much more brightly after the halftime break to try and turn the game in its favor. Off a long throw-in from the left by Justin Schmidt, the ball was flicked on to Isidro Martinez, who tried to flick the ball past Austin’s Elliot Panicco on the doorstep only for the goalkeeper to save. Sandoval also tried a spinning finish from 16 yards off a header by Suggs that bounced wide of the left post, while in the 56th minute an angled free kick from the left by Martinez found Ryden unmarked at the back post for a header that was just kept out by Panicco.
Bold FC was handed another big chance to take the lead with 20 minutes to go as Schmidt gave away possession, playing a pass straight to Beto Avila at the top of the penalty area, but Tambakis reacted quickly to deny the one-on-one chance for the local Austin standout. Seven minutes later, however, Avila’s pressure paid off as he stole possession from Micheal Azira and broke into the penalty area, where the Ugandan midfielder pulled him down for a penalty kick. Baez stepped up to the spot and fired down the middle as Tambakis went to the left side to put the hosts ahead.
New Mexico tried to find a way back into the game late on, but twice Panicco claimed confidently on set pieces into the penalty area as only a chance for Daniel Bruce with six minutes to go that went over the crossbar provided a chance to level for the visitors. From there, Bold FC saw out the remaining minutes to claim another important win for the club’s playoff aspirations.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Gustavo Rissi, Austin Bold FC – Rissi put in a strong display on the back line for the hosts, winning 4 of 4 tackles and 8 of 9 duels while making seven recoveries as Austin held its visitors to only a pair of shots on target.
ATX – Xavi Baez (Penalty Kick) 78’