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Q&A with NM United’s Daniel Bruce

New Mexico United midfielder Daniel Bruce, seen here about to pass the ball during a game on May 29, is known for his blue-collar playing style. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

A hometown boy he’s not, but Daniel Bruce could well be called New Mexico United’s adopted lad-made-good.

The 25-year-old from Warrington, England, has won over Albuquerque fans with a blue-collar playing style that accompanies his smooth British accent. Chants of “Bruuuuuce!” inevitably arise whenever the 5-foot-6 midfielder holds the ball during a home match at Isotopes Park.

Bruce grew up playing soccer with his “mates” but came to the United States (UNC Charlotte) because he found the concept of getting an education while competing in his favorite sport appealing. The track offered Bruce his first exposure to New Mexico because the 49ers played three road games at the University of New Mexico during his collegiate career.

Bruce concedes he “never expected to actually live here,” but says he has fallen in love with the state since United coach Troy Lesesne brought him aboard for United’s inaugural 2019 season. Bruce prefers being known for his hustle and work ethic, but there’s a bit of flash to the former striker’s game, as well.

Question: Your shorthanded goal at Colorado Springs was named USL Championship Goal of the Month for May. Tight match, time running out, what went through your mind on that play?

Answer: I’d be lying if I said I was thinking I was going to score. Being a man down we were just trying to maintain some kind of forward presence and Devon Sandoval gave me a ball that was absolutely perfect. He deserves a large part of the credit for that goal.

Q: You are often described as someone who plays with a chip on his shoulder. Is that portrayal accurate?

A: Absolutely. I was born and raised in Northern England, an area not drenched in wealth but more of an industrial area. I try to display that on the field, that hard work is non-negotiable. It’s a trait I learned from my mother. She’s from Burnley, which is 100% blue collar.

Q: You’ve said your father was a rugby player. Did you ever try playing rugby?

A: I played a little bit. Football was a better fit. It’s said rugby is a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen and soccer is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans. I’ve found that to be true.

Q: You’ve split your time in the United States between North Carolina and New Mexico. What differences have struck you?

A: North Carolina is more similar to the U.K., humid and the pace of life is quicker. Everyone’s always in a hurry. Out here you’ve got the dry heat and things are calmer. There’s more time to just enjoy people. I haven’t been back to Carolina since I came here.

Daniel Bruce at a glance

Attended UNC Charlotte, family lives in England

Favorite athlete: Tyson Fury, the boxer. I find him very inspirational.

Non-sports hobby: Darts. Whether it’s a sport is up for debate, but I’m not as good as I should be for the time I put into it.

Favorite Movie: “Man on Fire” with Denzel Washington

Favorite musicians: Simon and Garfunkel. My dad always played their music when I was growing up and I still love it.

Anything you’re scared of? (Grins) An untidy bedroom. If I come home to an unmade bed, that’s a horror. Might have a bit of OCD, I guess.

Red or green chile? Green

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