New Mexico United soccer: 2023 schedule is out, and the home dates look good - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico United soccer: 2023 schedule is out, and the home dates look good

United defender Kalen Ryden (22), shown battling with LA with Galaxy forward Mike Salazar (73) during action last season, looks forward to helping New Mexico earn a home playoff game in 2023. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico United fans won’t see much of their club until June, but Saturday gatherings at Isotopes Park will be frequent during the rest of the club’s 2023 season.

The USL Championship released its regular-season schedule Monday, and it features some notable changes from 2022. The league includes 24 teams divided into 12-team Eastern and Western conferences. Clubs will face each of their conference foes twice (home and away) and take on each nonconference opponent once (six home, six away) over the course of a 34-game schedule.

For United, home appearances will be infrequent early. NMU plays its first three matches and seven of its first 10 on the road, beginning with a March 18 contest at Miami. The home opener is April 15 against San Diego.

But coach Zach Prince’s club will enjoy plenty of home cooking later in the season, including a three-game homestand in June and four consecutive home matches beginning in late August.

Prince, United president Peter Trevisani and players Kalen Ryden and Chris Wehan were upbeat about the schedule Monday. All four appeared and took questions on the team’s United Sessions podcast.

“To me, the biggest step forward for the league is that everyone plays everyone this year,” Prince said. “It’s balanced and you get an opportunity to see different areas of the country and different fan bases.”

United faces some extensive travel. Its first two matches will be in Florida and California (at Monterey Bay), and a September road trip has NMU playing in Sacramento and Pittsburgh three days apart.

But Prince and his players focused more on the home schedule and capitalizing on a home fan base that led the USLC in attendance last season.

New Mexico posted one of the USLC’s best road records (7-3-7) last season but finished 6-6-5 at home.

“Our home record was not anywhere near what it should’ve been,” Ryden said. “A big goal for us this year is to right that wrong.”

The 2023 schedule could give United a chance to exceed last season’s average home attendance of 10,724 per game as 14 of its 17 home contests will be on weekends (13 on Saturdays). United hosted six midweek games last season and has typically drawn larger crowds on weekends.

Prince also said he is very motivated to earn the club’s first home playoff game in 2023, something United fell two points short of accomplishing last season.

The league’s playoff format will change this season with eight teams from each conference qualifying for postseason play. Unlike last season, there will be no first-round byes.

The USLC has three fewer teams as MLS-affiliated clubs Atlanta United 2, LA Galaxy II and New York Red Bulls II are moving to MLS Next Pro competition in 2023. The USLC has several expansion franchises set to join its ranks over the next three years, however.

The USLC’s website listed three of New Mexico’s matches among its 22 to watch for 2023: rivalry matches vs. El Paso (June 3 at home) and at Phoenix (Oct. 7) and a late-season interconference match against Louisville, which makes its first appearance in Albuquerque on Sept. 30.

Prince said he expects to announce “four or five” player signings in the near future with teams scheduled to begin preseason training later this month. Preseason play begins in February, but those schedules have not yet been released.

 

New Mexico United

2023 Regular Season Schedule

March 18 at Miami

April 1 at Oakland

April 8 at Monterey Bay

April 15 San Diego

April 22 at Colorado Springs

April 29 Orange County

May 5 at Rio Grande Valley

May 13 Monterey Bay

May 17 at Loudoun United

May 27 at San Antonio

June 3 El Paso

June 10 at Tampa Bay

June 17 Rio Grande Valley

June 21 Phoenix

June 24 Colorado Springs

July 1 at El Paso

July 4 at Las Vegas

July 8 Detroit

July 22 Sacramento

July 29 at Orange County

August 5 at Hartford

August 12 San Antonio

August 19 at San Diego

August 23 Oakland

August 26 Tulsa

August 30 Las Vegas

Sept. 2 Charleston

Sept. 9 at Birmingham

Sept. 15 Indy Eleven

Sept. 20 at Sacramento

Sept. 23 at Pittsburgh

Sept. 30 Louisville

Oct. 7 at Phoenix

Oct. 14 Memphis

Note: All game times TBA.

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