Saturday night, when New Mexico United hosted Loudoun United FC, David Carl marched into Isotopes Park alongside his fellow Curse members just like he has for every NMU home match.
This time, after all the flag-waving and drum-pounding, Carl didn’t join the supporters group in Sections 116 and 118. Instead, he headed to the press box to continue working.
Carl is well-traveled, having lived in six states, but has found a home in New Mexico thanks to his love of soccer.
His passion for the game led Carl from cheering on New Mexico United to actually being employed by the club.
Carl, one of the founders of The Curse, the official supporters group of New Mexico United, is now United’s director of communications and fan experience.
“When (team owner Peter Trevisani) first hired me on, he was interested in me coming on as director of communications,” Carl said. “That was what I had done in my career but if I was going to move from The Curse to United I needed to have this tie back to the fans. That means the most to me, the supporters and the community that we’ve all built. So we added the second part which is director of fan experience. That entails basically making sure the fans have a seat at the table and their voices are heard and making sure we’re creating an environment that is welcoming for everyone.”
Carl’s childhood in South Florida included attending Miami Fusion games. He loved watching Carlos Valderrama play.
“That’s where I fell in love with watching soccer in person,” Carl said. “When we got a team, I was so, so excited. I saw with the Philadelphia Union what soccer can do to improve a community and bring people together who are so different. I was so excited to see that come to New Mexico.”
Carl came to New Mexico in 2015 as a reporter for KOAT-TV. He initially planned on leaving the state after his three-year contract ran out but New Mexico got a hold of him.
“I fell in love with New Mexico,” Carl said. “These are the people I want to be around and I fall in love with New Mexico everyday. If people ask me where I’m from, I say I’m from New Mexico. This is home.”
In 2018, Carl’s new home was awarded a USL Championship expansion team which became New Mexico United. Carl was one of the first to fall in love with the team and helped found The Curse. He became president of the group in 2019.
In Carl’s one term as president of The Curse, the group grew from few to many. Carl set an initial goal of having 50 paid members by the end of the season. At the end of 2019, The Curse was 550 strong. He also spearheaded several fundraisers, including Prideraiser, which generated donations for Casa Q to provide safe living options for LGBTQ youth and allies.
“We are always about supporting our community and supporting our club,” Carl said. “It’s one of the biggest supporters groups in the country regardless of league. More so I’m proud of our community efforts. The ability for us to make an impact and show that, yes we love our team, but that’s secondary to supporting our community.”
Like everyone, Carl’s life was impacted deeply by COVID. But part of his experience was, in his words, serendipitous.
“I was communications director for another organization and due to COVID, my entire department was eliminated for budget cuts,” Carl said. “As a friend, not looking for a job, I asked (Trevisani) ‘do you want to go get a beer, I just lost my job?’ It just so happened that United’s previous communications director two days earlier took another job elsewhere. It just worked out. I got really lucky that the club that I love happened to be hiring a position that made sense for me.”
Carl give up a piece of his gameday experience. Instead of screaming for 90 minutes, he now works for 12 hours on match days. Instead of setting off smoke bombs, he’s tweeting game updates in the press box.
“It was a little bittersweet to leave The Curse that I love so much,” Carl said. “During that first match when The Curse sets off those smoke bombs and I’m not down there, I got a little choked up. I love those people and what they stand for and what they fight for. It was tough not to be down there but at the same time it felt incredible to be part of this amazing organization. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”