SAN DIEGO – Ilija Ilic scored in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time to earn New Mexico United a 1-1 draw with San Diego Loyal SC in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon at Torero Stadium in a result that moved New Mexico into fourth place in the Mountain Division standings ahead of Austin Bold FC with three games to go in the regular season.
The hosts created an early look on goal in the second minute when Collin Martin’s free kick from a central position was headed on target by Callum Montgomery, forcing New Mexico’s Alex Tambakis to turn the ball over the crossbar. Corey Hertzog went close again soon after with a shot that pulled just wide of the right post, and the early momentum continue to be in San Diego’s favor in the 12th minute when Augustine Williams had a cross from the left deflected toward Alejandro Guido, who as he was backpedaling to make space hit a shot on the volley that hit the crossbar and was gathered by Tambakis to end the danger.
New Mexico settled down after the early pressure and in 19th minute Daniel Bruce got played into space on the right but his angled delivery through the penalty area was just out of reach of Chris Wehan and was gathered by SD Loyal goalkeeper Austin Guerrero. A few minutes later Sergio Rivas had a speculative effort that was also saved, while Martin threatened again for the hosts in the 28th minute with a long-range shot that went just wide of the right post.
The visitors created their first clear chance in the 33rd minute as after a free kick was initially broken up, Wehan recycled possession and swung in a cross from the left channel that bounced once in the penalty area and was met at the far post by Kalen Ryden, whose header forced a sharp save by Guerrero. Then in first-half stoppage time another good delivery – this time by Bruce from the right – found Rivas for a header to the bottom-left corner that Guerrero got across well to deny.
SD Loyal might have taken the lead six minutes into the second half as Guido began a counterattack with a good tackle near the halfway line before sending Hertzog forward into the right side of the penalty area. Hertzog controlled and with Tambakis advancing off his line played a pass centrally that found Guido’s trailing run, but United’s Rashid Tetteh positioned himself perfectly on the goal line to block the shot up off the crossbar and out to keep the game scoreless.
A few minutes later it was again the turn of the visitors as Wehan delivered a powerfully struck free kick from 30 yards to the top-right corner of the net that Guerrero parried away with one hand for a corner kick, but in the 61st minute SD Loyal broke through as off a corner kick from the right by Guido to the near post, Douglas Martinez Jr. flicked a header across goal into the left corner of the net.
New Mexico tried to find an answer, and with 11 minutes to go Rivas went close as the ball rolled loose to the top-right edge of the penalty area off a deflected clearance that allowed the attacking midfielder to wind up for a first-time shot that Guerrero had to tip over the crossbar. Four minutes later, Guerrero came up with another crucial save after Wehan was played in behind the defense by Ilija Ilic but saw his shot turned wide of the left post by a fine one-handed save as the goalkeeper kept himself big coming off his line to narrow the angle.
As time appeared to have run out, however, New Mexico created one final chance as after a corner kick from the right had been cleared by the hosts, the ball was quickly recycled to Isidro Martinez on the right. The winger delivered another ball into the top of the six-yard area where Ilic was on hand to volley home to the right side of the net, sending the visitors and their travelling support into celebration as the final whistle arrived moments after the ensuing kickoff.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Alejandro Guido, San Diego Loyal SC – Guido put in a standout shift for the hosts, recording the assist on Douglas Martinez Jr.’s goal and finishing the night with two shots and six key passes while completing 29 of 36 passes overall.
SD – Douglas Martinez Jr. (Alejandro Guido) 61’
NM – Ilija Ilic (Isidro Martinez) 90+4’