ST. PAUL -- New Mexico United became the darling underdogs of U.S. Open Cup with two upsets of MLS clubs in previous rounds of the national tournament.
But at halftime of the new USL club’s quarterfinal against Minnesota United, New Mexico players could have been excused if they begged for a mercy rule.
The Loons’ lethal attack found its latest victim in a 6-1 blowout win Wednesday, July 10, at Allianz Field.
New Mexico scored the first goal in the seventh minute and looked like it could continue the magic that showed in upsets of FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids.
Then Minnesota’s attack ran up four goals in the next 13 minutes. Angelo Rodriguez tied it in the 10th and made it a 3-1 lead in the 18th, and he earned his first hat trick in Minnesota and gave the Loons a 5-1 lead moments before halftime.
Darwin Quintero gave the Loons a 2-1 lead in the 13th and moved into the lead for the Open Cup’s Golden Boot title given to the tournament’s top goal scorer.
Jan Gregus added a gorgeous bending free kick goal from 19 yards out in the 23rd minute, and early in the second half, Miguel Ibarra scored for the first time since March 9.
The Loons have scored 26 goals in the past six games since entering the U.S. Open Cup in mid-June. Minnesota won its first two Open Cup games — 4-1 over Sporting Kansas City and 3-2 over Houston Dynamo.
Before entering the Open Cup, Minnesota had managed six goals in the nine previous games.
Minnesota will face either the Portland Timbers or Los Angeles FC in the semifinals at a to-be-announced location on Aug. 7. The Timbers played at Los Angeles in a late quarterfinal Wednesday night.
New Mexico showed a lack of bite without playmaker and scorer Kevaughn Frater, who had four goals in the tournament but was suspended Wednesday for yellow card accumulation. Their lone goal came from Santi Moar on a corner kick that was recycled at the top of the box.
The groundswell from New Mexico’s run of four road wins in the Open Cup reached its governor’s office in Santa Fe. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a video tweet of her well wishes before the game Wednesday.
“You are bringing New Mexicans across the state, building communities all together, just showing the spirit of New Mexico and we can really make things happen,” she said.
The support traveled to St. Paul with an estimated 300 New Mexico fans at the game. That is more than double the highest number of fans from the visiting teams for MLS games at Allianz Field this season.
But the Loons sent most of the announced crowd of 12,401 home with another blowout.