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Oppo Research: 5 Things about New Mexico United

Ken Sickenger of the Albuquerque Journal tells us about New Mexico United's high-pressing style, Greg Hurst's goal-scoring ability, and why Zico Bailey could trouble the Baby Blues.

Greg Hurst is all smiles in the US Open Cup. | Courtesy of New Mexico United

In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with Ken Sickenger of the Albuquerque Journal to learn more about New Mexico United, New York City FC II's opponent in the US Open Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday at Belson Stadium. Here is your NYCFC II vs New Mexico preview.

1. Strong pressing, strong passing lead to quality results

Hudson River Blue: New Mexico has won three straight games and is in second place in the USL Championship's Western Conference. What’s going right for New Mexico this season?

Ken Sickenger: NMU has done a great job pressing and forcing takeaways in most matches. Not a ton of possession or high shot totals, but quality chances and sharing the ball effectively. A lot of different goal scorers.

2. Fast-paced approach is working

HRB: New Mexico stunned MLS Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake to advance to the Round of 16. How can New Mexico create that same kind of success against a red-hot NYCFC II side?

KS: United was very quick and decisive against Real Salt Lake — taking first-touch opportunities when possible. A similar approach may be necessary against NYCFC II, which hasn’t been conceding much of anything.

3. Greg Hurst is clinical

HRB: After scoring just five total goals last year, Greg Hurst already has four goals not even halfway into this season. What’s working well for him and how can he get involved in the game on Tuesday?

KS: Greg Hurst joined United prior to last season under the previous coaching staff. He’s been a better fit in Eric Quill’s system, became a regular starter late last season, and is off to a great start. He’s particularly good at capitalizing on takeaways and in out-of-system situations.

Greg Hurtst capitalizes on a mistake

4. The X-Factor: Zico Bailey

HRB: What's the X-factor that could decide this game?

KS: From New Mexico’s perspective, Zico Bailey is an X factor. His quickness and creativity can cause headaches - as they did vs. Salt Lake when he scored twice and consistently created chances.

One of Zico Bailey's two goals against Real Salt Lake in the US Open Cup

5. Predicted Starting XI

HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI?