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Bruce’s versatility benefits himself, United

New Mexico United’s Daniel Bruce (25), shown in action during the 2019 season, has been a versatile player for the team. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal File)

Daniel Bruce has become a jack of all trades for New Mexico United.

While the team’s website lists him as a midfielder, and he was a striker in college and growing up, that hardly tells the story of what he does now for the second year USL Championship squad.

When David Najem went down injured at El Paso on July 15, it was Bruce sliding into help on the backline.

With Devon Sandoval down this past weekend at Oklahoma City, Bruce didn’t take his spot, but he was certainly a piece of the puzzle in the attack. His assist to Chris Wehan in the closing minutes of the first half – a ball Bruce flew from one side of the field to the next like a blur in time to collect from Romeo Parks in the box on the fast turf of Taft Stadium, then cross beautifully to Wehan for the 2-0 lead.

“I’ve learned to grow and become comfortable in it,” Bruce said Wednesday of his role as a do-anything player for United. “Yeah. I mean, it’s great to have coaches that trust you in more than one position. In college, I was always a striker and here played more in midfield last season – and now find myself in a more wingback position at times. But, look, I love playing football and I’m so thankful to have the coaching staff here and players around me that want to improve my football wherever I’m being played.”

Troy Lesesne said he knew since coaching against him in spring matches against Bruce’s college squad several years ago at UNC Charlotte that the native of Warrington, England, was the type of player he would love to have on his own side.

“This guy would not stop working and drove our players crazy,” Lesesne said. “And I was like, well, that’s a guy I want on our team. And, you know, he embodies New Mexico. … Brucie, he’s just that person, just that player. He wants to go and fulfill a role – no matter what that role is, he’s ready to do the work.”

YES WEHAN: The goal-scoring machine that is Chris Wehan since the July 11 restart – four goals in four matches – was honored on Tuesday, when he was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week.

Wehan scored a goal off a Bruce assist in last week’s win over Oklahoma City Energy FC and also assisted on the goal scored off the chest of Amando Moreno, his first goal of the season for NMU.

Wehan, the former New Mexico Lobo, is tied for second in USL Championship with four goals on the season. He is one of seven players with that total trailing Indy Eleven’s Tyler Pasher, who has six goals through seven matches (two more than Wehan and United).

SCHMIDT OUT: Justin Schmidt, the defender who started 30 games for United and logged 2,700 minutes on the field last year as well as starting the first game of the 2020 season back in March before hurting his foot, appears to be done for the season.

While the team hasn’t specified if it is the same injury suffered by Schmidt when he broke his foot playing for Real Salt Lake in the MLS in 2017, Lesesne did confirm Wednesday the 27-year-old defender is recovering from foot surgery.

“Justin’s not going to be with us (for this weekend’s game) and he’s probably not going to be with us for the year,” Lesesne said. “That’s the update on Justin – tough injury that he sustained. But he’s going through surgery now and he’s in recovery on his foot. But, he’s doing great. You know, maybe there’s maybe there’s an outside chance for this season, but it may be difficult as well, if I’m honest.”

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