ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Chris Wehan scored with 10 minutes to go to lift New Mexico United to a 2-1 victory against Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday night at Isotopes Park in a game that saw his younger brother Charlie find the net for the visitors during a thrilling start to the second half.
The Monarchs opened positively, in particular Malik Johnson, who first sent a cross from the right side to the back spot for a diving header by Charlie Wehan that went wide of the left post, and then fired a long-range effort that went just over the crossbar inside the opening seven minutes. New Mexico’s first pair of chances, meanwhile, came from set pieces with the second cleared up in the air by a defender before Justin Schmidt headed toward goal where Kalen Ryden redirected the ball on target to force a good save by Real goalkeeper Jeff Dewsnup.
Schmidt went close from another set piece chance as Chris Wehan delivered a free kick from the left to the top of the penalty area for a first-time shot that went just over the crossbar, while in the 27th minute the New Mexico playmaker delivered a ball through the top of the six-yard area from the right that Devon Sandoval connected with faintly but couldn’t turn on target. The hosts had another opportunity from a corner kick on the lead by Chris Wehan that found Amando Moreno, but Dewsnup was again equal to the task, parrying the ball away to keep the game scoreless at the break.
Sandoval went closer in the opening minute of the season half to breaking the deadlock for the hosts with a header off a cross from the right by David Najem that was saved by Dewsnup, but in the 48th minute New Mexico found the breakthrough as Moreno received the ball 30 yards out from Andrew Tinari and first drove into the left side of the penalty area before cutting back onto his right foot and sending a shot into the top-left corner of the net.
The lead was short-lived, however, as two minutes later the Monarchs found their response. Johnson found Charlie Wehan 35 yards from goal and the first-year pro powered into the left side of the penalty area with three defenders in his wake and delivered a finish into the left side of the net. The early second-half action continued as New Mexico tried to respond, and after Moreno delivered a low cross from the right that was palmed into the center of the penalty area, Sandoval struck the crossbar with a finish.
United was then awarded a penalty kick in the 53rd minute as Daniel Bruce was brought down in the penalty area, but Dewsnup’s trailing legs denied the shot down the middle as he dove to the left corner to keep the game level. Dewsnup made another good save five minutes later as Moreno found Sandoval for a header that was tipped over the crossbar, while in the 67th minute Josh Suggs was also brilliantly denied by the 17-year-old goalkeeper who made a low diving save to keep out a header to the bottom-left corner.
United went close again with 17 minutes to go as a long ball forward by Tinari release Chris Wehan for a one-on-one opportunity that he sent wide of the right post, but in the 80th minute the elder Wehan brother wouldn’t be denied as he headed home a cross from Daniel Bruce on the left to put the hosts back on top.
New Mexico tried to add to its lead with five minutes to go as first Isidro Martinez fired a shot from 20 yards that hit the right post and caromed back out into the left side of the penalty area, where Chris Wehan missed the target with a follow-up chance. The hosts saw out the remaining minutes, however, to gain a valuable victory in its pursuit of a postseason berth.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Chris Wehan, New Mexico United – Wehan was a consistent threat in the final third for the hosts, finishing the night with a goal as well as four shots and seven key passes overall to send the side to victory.
NM – Amando Moreno (Andrew Tinari) 48’
SLC – Charlie Wehan (Malik Johnson) 50’
NM – Chris Wehan (Daniel Bruce) 80’