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United gets to work early on securing players for next season

Local soccer player Anna Swanson trains with New Mexico United player Devon Sandoval at a summer session. COURTESY NM UNITED

New Mexico United announced Wednesday it has exercised its team options on 13 players for the 2020 United Soccer League Championship division season, including New Mexico natives Devon Sandoval, Joshua Suggs and Justin Schmidt.

The status is iffy on five players who were on one-year deals — Santi Moar, Manny Padilla, Daniel Bruce, Kevaughn Frater, and New Mexican and former New Mexico Lobo Joshua Goss. United said in a statement that the team and players are “in talks” regarding their return.

Four other players — Ethen Sampson, Toni Soler, Kenny Akamatsu, and Tommy Madden — were not offered contracts for 2020.

Other players from this year’s team to be brought back: Cody Mizell, Benjamin Beaury, Rashid Tetteh, Austin Yearwood, Juan Pablo Guzman, Sam Hamilton, Saalih Muhammed, Ryan Williams, Christopher Wehan and David Estrada.

“I’m very pleased we will retain a strong core of our players from the first season, as it will allow tremendous continuity for us to build on for next season,” said Troy Lesesne, head coach.

The 2019 United team finished its inaugural season with 11 wins, 10 losses, 13 ties and the last of 10 playoff spots in the 18-team USLC Western Conference. It lost its postseason debut 2-1 at Sacramento.

New Mexico also made a stirring run in the U.S. Open Cup tournament, defeating Major League Soccer teams Dallas and Columbus to reach the quarterfinals before falling at Minnesota.

United was a hit at the gate, leading the 36-team USLC with an announced 12,693 on average for its 17 home matches at Isotopes Park, per