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Bailey, Hernandez send New Mexico to Open Cup upset of Real Salt Lake

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/08/24, 11:31PM EDT


Trio of long-distance strikes in first half earn United 4-2 victory and place in the Round of 16

Photo courtesy New Mexico United

New Mexico United welcomed a club from Major League Soccer to Albuquerque in the Open Cup for the first time on Wednesday night.

It then promptly sent them home.

A pair of goals two minutes apart by Zico Bailey and another in first-half stoppage time by Nicky Hernandez – all fired home from outside the penalty area – paved the way to a 4-2 victory against Real Salt Lake at Isotopes Park and a place in the Round of 16.

Before an enthusiastic home crowd, United made a positive start. It carved out the first big chance of the game in the 13th minute when Sergio Rivas was played into space in the penalty area but denied by an excellent save by RSL goalkeeper Gavin Beavers. Six minutes later, however, Bailey struck first as he found space 25 yards from goal and laced home a shot into the bottom-left corner.

As if that wasn’t enough, 93 seconds later he repeated the trick. After New Mexico turned over possession in RSL’s half, Dayonn Harris found Bailey at the top of the penalty area and he produced the same result, once again to the left side.

Real hit back through a familiar face 10 minutes before halftime when 2023 Championship Young Player of the Year Fidel Barajas put home a sharp finish from a narrow angle on the left for his first goal for his new club, but as it appeared United would have to settle for a one-goal halftime lead Hernandez provided another long-distance blast. Turning a defender almost 30 yards from goal, his right-footed shot sent the home fans into celebration again.

RSL hit back again four minutes after the halftime break as former Championship All-League selection Diego Luna fired home another sharp finish from outside the penalty area, but the visitors were unable to mount consistent pressure on the United goal as New Mexico held its own. Then, with five minutes to go, the insurance marker arrived for the hosts as Jacobo Reyes was the first to react to a curling shot by Hernandez that rattled the crossbar and sent home the rebound, sending United through in style.

Scoring Summary
– Zico Bailey (Sergio Rivas) 17’
NM – Zico Bailey (Dayonn Harris) 19’
RSL – Fidel Barajas (Zavier Gozo) 35’
NM – Nicky Hernandez 45+4’
RSL – Diego Luna (Anderson Julio) 49’
NM – Jacobo Reyes 85’

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