Building a successful soccer program from the ground up already merits a check mark on Paul Leese’s résumé.
He’ll now have an opportunity to do it again.
New Mexico United officially hired Leese on Friday to serve as both first-team assistant coach and head coach of the club’s academy program. NMU announced Leese’s signing and other coaching assignments for 2021 during a Zoom media call.
A native of Liverpool, England, Leese spent the past five seasons coaching men’s soccer at UT Rio Grande Valley, where he started the program in 2015 and amassed a 40-41-9 overall record. UTRGV posted winning records in his final two seasons, including a 14-6-0 mark in 2018.
Leese will work specifically with United’s first-team strikers and will take charge of the organization’s academy squad. NMU has been steadily filling a roster an academy roster with younger players in recent weeks.
“I’m very excited to work with the academy guys in New Mexico,” Leese said. “I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed seeing the development of younger players and I’m looking forward to establishing an academy with New Mexico United. I think it can be a fantastic environment for young players.”
Leese has a longstanding friendship with NMU head coach Troy Lesesne dating to when both men played and coached college and professional soccer in the Carolinas. Lesesne said he and Leese have similar philosophies about the game and developing talent.
“We want players to advance through the academy to our first team,” Lesesne said. “Paul understands how the game works and how the game should be played. He knows how to develop players.”
Leese joins assistants Zach Prince and Peter Davis on NMU’s first-team coaching staff, effectively replacing Gavin Clinton, who worked with NMU’s strikers in 2020. Davis, who works with goalkeepers, and former United midfielder David Estrada will assist Leese with the academy program. The current NMU players, Cody Mizell, Daniel Bruce and Micheal Azira, will serve as apprentice coaches.