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NM United adds academy program for 16-19 year-olds in ’21

New Mexico United continues to spread its soccer roots in the state, and adding an academy program is the latest step.

NMU will launch a fully scholarshipped program for male players ages 16-19 that plans to begin play in 2021. The team will compete in the USL Academy League’s Southwest Division, playing a nine-game schedule in its inaugural season.

Games will typically be played against academy squads affiliated with United’s USL Championship opponents on the day following a first-team match. Dates and venues will be announced at a later time.

NMU assistant coach and director of high performance youth programming Zach Prince said the academy program will provide opportunities for elite local players while helping United teach its system and build depth.

“This is really, really important to us,” Prince said during a Zoom media conference. “Developing the youth side is key to our club and it’s a way for local players to become part of our professional organization. It’s fully funded, so there will be no cost to the players.”

United’s staff will scout local club and high school players and will schedule viewing sessions and tryouts, likely beginning in early 2021, Prince said. Players in the academy program will train four days per week and compete in two multi-team events along with their nine-match schedule.

“This program will enhance the youth development in our state,” Prince said, “and will provide an opportunity to showcase the elite talent of New Mexico on a national stage.”

The New Mexico United Academy Team will compete in a division including affiliates from the following organizations: Colorado Rush, El Paso Locomotive FC, FC Tucson, Orange County FC, Phoenix Rising FC, San Francisco Glens and Ventura County Fusion.

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