Andrew Tinari admits he didn’t know what to expect when he signed with New Mexico United in 2020.
A New Yorker through and through, Tinari grew up on Long Island, played collegiate soccer at Columbia and then signed with the USL’s New York Red Bulls II. Having the beach and the big city’s buzz within easy reach were givens.
But with an Ivy League education secure, Tinari began to wonder about other parts of the United States. He played a season with the USL Championship’s Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2019 and then signed on with New Mexico just prior to last year’s pandemic shutdown.
It was not the type of season Tinari or anyone else had in mind. United played exclusively on the road and interaction between players and the club’s enthusiastic fan base was strictly limited.
Tinari decided he hadn’t seen enough. After one goal scored (against Phoenix Rising) and one playoff run, the physical, 25-year-old midfielder re-signed with United in February.
Question: How much did you actually know about New Mexico before you came here?
Answer: To be honest, I knew it bordered Arizona and had sort of a desert vibe. That was about it.
Q: What made you want to try living in the state?
A: (United coach) Troy Lesesne sells it pretty well, I guess. I obviously knew of the scenery of New Mexico but I didn’t have a true idea of what it’s about. The people here are something you don’t expect. Really, they’re the reason I came back this year.
Q: Considering that you never got to play in New Mexico last year, what specifically impressed you?
A: Well, the New Mexico organization and the fans we did see made last year a great experience. They came out to send us off on road trips, stuck with us and supported us as much as they could. Man, I’m so grateful for the opportunity I have here.
Q: You’re a bit of an outlier on the team considering you have an Ivy League degree in architecture. What are you planning to do with that?
A: (Laughs) I don’t know. In the offseason I try to get involved as much as possible. I worked with a small architectural firm and I’m trying to get as much experience as possible for my résumé for whenever I’m done playing soccer.
Q: Now that you’ve finally had a chance to play at home, how has your perspective on New Mexico and United changed?
A: That first home game was truly special. The fans showed up for us as usual, Troy gave a great speech and we knew we needed to play that game for them. But I feel like this year will be nice because now a lot of my friends and family can finally visit me and find out what New Mexico’s really about. I’ll take them hiking in the Jemez, out for a nice dinner. I plan to show them as much as I can.
at a glance
Favorite sports team: Roma
Favorite athlete: Francisto Totti
Non-sports hobby: Tennis — well, I guess that’s a sport. Art and design
Favorite TV show: That’s so tough. Game of Thrones is up there, but I’ll have to say Peaky Blinders
Favorite musical artist: J. Cole, with a shout out to my friend, LOU!E
Dream car: I’m very simple. Maybe a classic Jaguar or a Bronco
No Italian sports cars? (Laughs) What am I going to do with those?
Red or Green chile? I don’t know if I can answer that. Guess you can’t lose with Christmas.