New Mexico United soccer: A primer, part 1 - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico United soccer: A primer, part 1

(Editor’s note: Expansion pro soccer franchise New Mexico United plays its first-ever game Saturday at Isotopes Park. Today’s installment begins a three-part series on things to know about the team, the league and the fan experience.)

The New Mexico United franchise that is owned by Peter Trevisani and debuts this week will compete in the “USL Championship,” the second division of American professional soccer behind only Major League Soccer. In 2019, the USL Championship will feature 36 teams split between the Eastern and Western conferences. The top eight teams in each conference make the playoffs.

Games played and teams per conference are not the same every year, complicating assessments of how many points will be needed to make the playoffs. But over the last five seasons, the minimum points per game needed to secure the final playoff spot in the Western Conference computes to 1.43 points per game. That would translate to 48.6 points needed over the 34-game season.

Teams get three points for a win and one for a draw.

“It’s a highly competitive league (and) it’s gotten better every year,” New Mexico United coach Troy Lesesne said. “Some of the teams in our division have competed with and beaten MLS teams, particularly in the Open Cup.”

The USL looks to add 15 more expansion clubs by 2026, likely in top 50 media markets. League officials anticipate some attrition via teams jumping up to MLS or electing to drop down to lower competition in USL League One.

Unlike most domestic soccer leagues globally, American soccer has no promotion relegation system. If you have loud opinions on the DH, instant replay or the NCAA cartel, you’ll feel at home in the promotion relegation debate.

In 2019, 14 MLS teams have an affiliate competing in the USL. New Mexico United is not affiliated with an MLS team. During his time with the USL clubs in Charleston and Charlotte, Lesesne worked with MLS teams.

“In the first year we just wanted to establish who New Mexico United was,” Lesesne said. “I want New Mexico United to be its own team without any direct affiliation. It gives us flexibility. We’re not just locked into one team.”

Locally, the Albuquerque Sol played in the Premier Development League for its first five seasons. For season six, it’s the same level, just renamed as USL League Two. Players are not compensated, though they may receive assistance for meals and housing. Players in USL League Two often progress by signing their first professional contract.

THE ROSTER: New Mexico United can carry 30 active players on its “Master Roster,” but Lesesne actually prefers a smaller group.

“We’ll get it up to 21 or 22 is what I hope,” Lesesne said. “I want everyone to feel like they’re involved. When you start to have 24, 25, 26, (when) it’s the same guys in the same spot it starts to take away from the entire group.”

Lesesne does not anticipate adding numbers during the season, but that’s based on good health. The club uses a subjective smartphone app called SoccerPulse to aggregate player feedback on fitness and trainings.

“We monitor players like crazy, their scores every day,” Lesesne said.

NMU will likely play a 4-3-3 (four defenders behind three midfielders and three forwards), but tactics will be dictated by game situations.

“We have some guys that have a lot of versatility,” Lesesne said. “There are some midfielders who can play in defensive positions. Even a few forwards can drop down into midfield.”

N.M. United has 20 players on the roster with two goalkeepers, five defenders, nine midfielders, and four forwards. The club is infused with some local flair.

• Devon Sandoval (forward): Albuquerque native; Eldorado High School; UNM

• Chris Wehan (midfielder): played at UNM

• Josh Goss (midfielder): Albuquerque native; UNM and the Albuquerque Sol

• Josh Suggs (defender): Las Cruces native

• Justin Schmidt (defender): Albuquerque native

It’s allowed seven “International Players” (non-U.S. or Canadian citizens) on the roster and on its game-day team sheet. NMU will use all its international spots. Teams are permitted to trade/sell international roster spots. Teams also have two “Permanent Loan Assignment” roster spots.

SALARIES: USL Championship players are paid and there is no league salary cap. Most player contracts are for one year with a club option beyond. Some NMU players receive housing stipends along with a monthly paycheck. Most contacts include a universal incentive based on team (not individual) production.

NMU stayed within its salary budget; Trevisani, without divulging salary figures, said its budget placed them in the USL median for team spending.

“We stayed right on budget,” Trevisani said. “There’s no correlation between spending money and winning cups, and there’s no correlation between camaraderie and team engagement with community and salary.”

Players may be sold or loaned to other clubs with the purchaser paying a transfer fee to the seller.

Home » Sports » Pro » New Mexico United soccer: A primer, part 1

Insert Question Legislature form in Legis only stories

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

taboola desktop

ABQjournal can get you answers in all pages


Questions about the Legislature?
Albuquerque Journal can get you answers
Email addresses are used solely for verification and to speed the verification process for repeat questioners.
Former Lobo Udeze shines in all-star game at Final ...
ABQnews Seeker
Former Lobo Morris Udeze was named ... Former Lobo Morris Udeze was named MVP of the College Basketball All-Star Game in his hometown of Houston on Friday.
Isotopes win season opener on road, a rarity
Featured Sports
'TOPES SATURDAY: At Round Rock 6:05 ... 'TOPES SATURDAY: At Round Rock 6:05 p.m. RADIO: 1050 AM/94.5 FM PROBABLE STARTERS: Isotope RHP Karl Kauffman (no record) vs. Express LHP Cody Bradford ...
Boxing: FIT-NHB is site of Saturday's Golden Gloves regional ...
Golden Gloves amateur boxing state champions ... Golden Gloves amateur boxing state champions from New Mexico and Colorado will throw down on Saturda ...
Grants defeats nemesis St. Pius X in 5-4A battle
St. Pius X has been a ... St. Pius X has been a fairly persistent baseball thorn in the side of the Grants Pirat ...
United resumes play in Oakland: Here's what to watch
Featured Sports
It could be described as the ... It could be described as the match both teams have been waiting for.After unusually le ...
Duke City Gladiators are glad to have back QB ...
Arena football
Old is new for the Duke ... Old is new for the Duke City Gladiators as they welcome back record-setting quarterback Nate Davis a ...
Sports Speak Up! Readers differ on value of transfer ...
Featured Sports
GEORGE SCOTT'S editorial in the Journal ... GEORGE SCOTT'S editorial in the Journal regarding the transfer portal is spot on. Fans can't get to see an athlete develop over four years, ...
Albuquerque-area economy listed as 'stagnant' in latest Brookings Metro ...
ABQnews Seeker
While the Albuquerque metro area remained ... While the Albuquerque metro area remained in the "stagnant" category, it wasn't alone — 51 other metro areas joined them on that list.
Talk of the Town: Unreported crime, gun violence, DeSantis ...
From the newspaper
OPINION: Making comments or jokes about ... OPINION: Making comments or jokes about an individual's private medical conditions are never OK.