Player Ratings: New Mexico United 0-2 Birmingham Legion
Strong showings all around
Clearly the boys used their extended break to great effect, producing what were almost certainly the best team and individual performances of the season, and earning 3 unexpected points into the bargain. A profitable trip out west by any standard. Here’s how the Forge thinks they each did:
GK: MATT VAN OEKEL – 8. Matt was tested just once all game in terms of having to make saves but was in command of his box all evening. His 3rd straight clean sheet extends his shutout streak to 335 minutes, 2nd best in the Championship this season after San Antonio’s Jordan Farr logged 386 minutes with a perfect April.
LB: JAKE RUFE – 8. Jake has really come into his own since the departure of Thomas Vancaeyezeele and has neared a position as the starting let back of choice. Saturday he won 4 of 7 duels, and racked up 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 1 block and 3 interceptions, and added a shot (off target).
CB: PHANUEL KAVITA – 8. The Three Sparks’ centerback duo are dominating everyone and frankly laughing in the face of forwards (although they probably didn’t do that to Neco). Phanny’s passing was a miserable 55% on a surprisingly low 20 passes, but he did move up into attack and had a rare shot on target. He won 3 of 4 duels and recorded 1 tackle and 4 clearances.
CB: ALEX CROGNALE – 9. The BitCoin Baller had a superb game. He completed 21 of 28 passes and was a solid 64.3% accurate in attack, including 1 chance creation. Defensively he won 6 of 8 duels and made 5 clearances and 1 interception.
RB: JONNY DEAN – 9. Jonny’s defending was rather suspect early in the season but he has stepped it up big time lately, using his speed in both directions and making some excellent sliding tackles. 70.3% accurate in passing, including 63% in the attacking half, to go with winning 4 of 6 duels as well as 3 tackles, 2 clearances and 1 interception. A shot on target, the game-winning assist and 3 chances created made for a sterling evening’s work.
LM: ENZO MARTINEZ – 9. Would you believe Enzo lost 11 duels? No? Would you believe he won 8 duels? Yes. Well, both are true. This game was played in Enzo’s wheelhouse and he was staggeringly active all night. No one racks up 19 duels. He found his target on 20 of 30 passes, also very creditable for an attacking player. And then there’s the small matter of his goal, which made for the Legion’s first multi-goal win of the season. 2 additional shots off target and 3 chances created. Is he the Mandarin or just simply the Man?
CM: MIKEY LOPEZ – 7.5. Mikey had a relatively quiet evening which ended after 87 minutes. But sometimes you want that: if a central midfielder’s name doesn’t get called much he’s either being bypassed or is forcing the play back. The latter was true in this case. Mikey completed 25 of 32 passes, but wasn’t really involved in the attack otherwise. 7 of 11 duels won, 2 tackles, 2 clearances and 2 interceptions. Loses a half point for the yellow card in the 67th minute.
RM: ZACH HERIVAUX – 8.5. Well, Enzo might be the Man most days, but Zach was the Man Saturday. A slight blemish with the second half yellow card, but overall an outstanding performance. 82.4% accuracy on a relatively high 51 passes (82.9% accurate in attack) was very strong, to go with 4 shots, 3 off frame and 1 blocked. Defensively also great: 6 of 9 duels won and 3 tackles, 1 clearance, 1 block and 1 interception. All of which gets him our Man of the Match award.
LAM: RYAN JAMES – 8. With Prosper Kasim unavailable, Ryan was freed up from his usual defensive responsibilities and was brought into the attack. It worked extremely well. 76.2% completion rate on 21 passes, 1 shot of target and 2 chances created. Given a rest after 87 minutes.
RAM: MARLON SANTOS – 8. The Jonny-Marlon combo has quickly become a major part of the Legion attack and is causing all sorts of problems for defenses who seem completely unable to manage the duo. Marlon made just 16 passes but connected on 13 of them. He had 1 shot blocked and created 1 chance. Pummeled into the dirt as usual, he left after 69 minutes.
FWD: JUAN AGUDELO – 9. That this was Juan’s best game in Legion colors is, well, pretty obvious. A goal and an assist (on which he probably could have scored himself) are as much as you can ask for from a striker. He was also offside twice, which is in fact also what you want from a forward, as it means he is getting deep, which up till now he seems to have been almost reluctant to do. Given a rest after 77 excellent minutes.
SUB: ANDERSON ASIEDU – 7. 21 official minutes. What? No goal? The Little Tank was obviously having an off day. Still, he was attack-minded enough to get offside once.
SUB: EDI HORVAT – 7. Just 13 minutes of game time for Edi, in which he really was not able to create anything in attack. But then, the Legion was not really trying to attack at this point, but rather just to close New Mexico down.
SUB: BRUNO LAPA – 8. It’s been too long since we last saw Bruno, but he made up for it fast. In 3 official minutes he managed to accumulate 11 passes and failed to find his target on only 2 of those. He also got a shot in, which was blocked, won 2 duels and blocked a shot himself. That’s getting it done.
SUB: GRAYSON DUPONT – N/A. Came on with Bruno for his second appearance and did not do very much.
HC: TOMMY SOEHN – 8. To his credit, Timmy did say earlier this season that the team would eventually find its best way of playing. It looks like they have done just that and at the perfect time. He has this team firing on all cylinders and working as an incredibly cohesive unit.