United Soccer League play makes its debut Saturday night in Albuquerque, where the home team may be just a beginner but is expected to play bigger and better than one.
In Championship Division action, New Mexico United hosts Fresno FC at Isotopes Park to usher in the next era of professional sports in the metro area.
Peter Trevisani, former Santa Fe finance director at Thornburg Investment Management, is the team’s president and owner. The franchise has made done some splashy marketing, can lean on some of the Isotopes management’s game-day experience at the 16-year-old city-owned facility, and expects a huge crowd – possibly even a sellout – for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff. The team at midweek said it has sold more than 2,400 season tickets and more than 3,000 tickets for tonight’s opener.
“There’s something special happening with New Mexico United,” USL spokesperson Scott Stewart said in a Journal story from earlier this week.
How the field will play, both for soccer and baseball when the Triple-A Isotopes’ season begins, will be something to watch of course down the road.
Meanwhile, the Championship Division of the USL is, domestically, the highest level of pro soccer behind only Major League Soccer.
United, a first-year franchise (there are seven teams new to the league, which has grown to 36 this year), isn’t expected to win the league. But neither is United expected to hold it up. On the league’s website (uslchampionship.com), United is picked 17th in the preseason power rankings.
Coach Trey Lesesne’s team includes several familiar names, among them Albuquerque products Justin Schmidt, Josh Goss and Devon Sandoval (the first player to commit to the franchise), Las Cruces native Josh Suggs, and former University of New Mexico star Chris Wehan.
“(T)he squad looks good on paper,” the site says. “An opening day win would be a big boost for the debutants.”