Around 8 a.m. this morning, nearly 200 New Mexico United supporters from all walks of life will be boarding a charter jet and heading 1,200 miles north to Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yesterday, another 75 loaded up their scarves, flags and barbecues, and departed Albuquerque in a bus. And together, all of them will be standing, singing and enjoying a beer or three as their hometown club New Mexico United takes the field tonight at Allianz Stadium against Minnesota United in what is arguably the biggest game in this young club’s history.
Like New Mexico United, the story of soccer in the United States is one of incredible progress. As one of the many volunteers at the 1994 FIFA World Cup 25 years ago, I could only dream of how the sport of soccer would sweep through the United States. The rise of the professional game, the country’s presence on the international stage – highlighted this weekend by the U.S. Women’s National Team’s fourth World Cup victory – and the way communities across the country have embraced their local soccer clubs as a part of their own unique cultural fabric have transformed the American soccer landscape. The game’s popularity has spread like wildfire.
So, as those black-and-yellow-clad supporters make the long trip north today, I want to take just a moment to appreciate not just the rise of professional soccer, but also the rise of New Mexico United.
Above all, Peter Trevisani and the club’s talented ownership group have put the community first. It’s the key ingredient to the club’s success, and it’s helped capture the hearts and minds of New Mexicans across the state. This is how the best clubs in the world operate, as community organizations. They give back more than they take in, and fans aren’t just dollar signs on a financial spreadsheet, but rather friends, close-knit members of their community, and the lifeblood of the club itself.
They also understand soccer’s ability to unite people from all walks of life. Around the world – regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, orientation or socio-economic status – the sport of soccer brings people together. No matter who you are, this sport is for you. And in very few places is that ethos on display more than Albuquerque.
New Mexico United is now a source of civic pride. It’s a rallying point for a community as diverse as the game itself. It’s a respite from the day-to-day. And it’s a source of inspiration for youth soccer players across the region who can look at the players competing at Isotopes Park and know that, if they work hard enough, they, too, can walk out under the bright lights one day and represent their community.
The club’s growth is also reflective of the league itself. Attendance, television viewership, club revenues, staffing, franchise values and number of soccer-specific-stadiums under construction are all increasing year over year. Between now and 2026, when the FIFA Men’s World Cup comes to the United States, we expect to bring professional soccer to as many as 20 more communities across the country. And with every new community that joins us comes additional stadium projects, youth-to-professional pathways, jobs, positive economic impacts and local rivalries to help stoke competitive fire.
All of this is to say that the future of New Mexico United, the USL Championship and the sport overall is incredibly bright, and fans like those in your community are at the forefront of a movement that grows larger every day.
So before United takes the field tonight in Minnesota, we want to say thank you to the community of Albuquerque, the state of New Mexico, and the owners, staff, players and supporters of New Mexico United. We are very proud to have you in our league, and look forward to witnessing your continued success in the days, years and decades ahead.