Cristian Nava’s potential breakthrough 2023 season with New Mexico United has been derailed.
Nava, a 19-year-old midfielder and Albuquerque native, suffered a torn ACL during a training session on Friday. He will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season, United announced Monday.
The popular Nava, who won a state soccer championship at Albuquerque High, was the first player to come through NMU’s academy program and sign a full pro contract with the club. He appeared in 16 matches last season, starting 10 and scoring two goals, and played the entirety of United’s 1-0 win over Miami FC on March 18.
“Cristian is a massive part of our team,” United coach Zach Prince said in a club statement, “and he personifies the identity of our group. The charisma and energy he brings to our group are infectious. It will be a challenge to the rest of this group of players to rise up in his absence.”
United, which visits Oakland Roots SC on Saturday, is in the midst of a scheduled two-week break between its first two matches. The club played an officiated scrimmage against the University of Washington’s men’s team Friday, with Nava’s injury occurring during the first half.
NMU has dealt with its share of significant injuries over the past three seasons. Among them, midfielder Amando Moreno missed all but 13 games last season after undergoing ACL surgery, and midfielder Sam Hamilton missed the final 20 matches after suffering a broken leg in 2021.
Nava recently signed a contract extension to remain with New Mexico through at least the 2024 USL Championship season.
“Cristian’s mentality is very strong,” Prince said, “and any adversity that has come his way ends up turning into a positive. He will be greatly missed on the field, and our team is committed to helping him through his rehabilitation process.”