OPENING NIGHT WAS AN EVENING OF FIRSTS, FROM THE ATTENDANCE RECORD TO NEW FANS TO THE GAME OF SOCCER
By Christopher Walker |March 15, 2019 | firstname.lastname@example.org
It could not have been scripted any better last Saturday night at Isotopes Park. The stadium field was converted to a pitch, a soccer term meaning field, for the debut of New Mexico’s new professional soccer club, New Mexico United. While so much of the focus has been on the record-setting 12,000 plus spectators that were in attendance, I think it would be more interesting to know the percentage of newly minted spectators in attendance watching professional soccer for the first time ever, which could range all the way from youth to adulthood.
Just outside the stadium, The Curse, one of New Mexico United’s supporter groups rallied together just as troops going into battle. Assembled into a line, The Curse marched on, some members with black and yellow war paint on their faces, flags and banners nestled within their hands, violently waving from side to side to vehemently display their pride for the state of New Mexico and its newly crowned professional soccer club. The Curse had developed chants for the United players, as well as, general chants for its members, as well as, anyone who would care to join in on the fun. The technical staff and the players have fully embraced The Curse and their support efforts.
Their latest offering was a massive Tifo, a large scaled picture of a sugar skull crested with the black and yellow team colors, streaks reminiscent to the Zia stripes and a strategically placed “505” as a callout to the Albuquerque locals. But make no mistake, The Curse is large scale in its own. Their members are not strictly from Albuquerque. They travel from the other cities in the state as well. This Tifo was supporter group funded. Some of the accommodations such as the hall rental in the Albuquerque Convention Center was arranged through the club itself. It took at least 40 cans of black, yellow, and white paint to cover the area of the canvas. It also required at least 40 to 50 volunteer hours for painting. They were painting until 1 in the morning the following day. I had the pleasure of contributing 5 hours towards this project.
Still, no one knew what to expect as the pre-game clock counted down to expired time. Thousands of hands waving promotional New Mexico United flags and raising their voices to high decibel to show their excitement for this new experience. As the New Mexico United began to walk out on the pitch the song “United 4 The Win” began playing on the stadium sound system. This is the team’s anthem composed by independent hip-hop artist, Dylan Huling (It was later confirmed on USL Championships hosted New Mexico United Nation Facebook group that this version was altered from the original version to serve as the team’s anthem). The rhythm sublimated with hollowed, 808 sounding beats was laced with fiery lyrics hyped up with the type of swagger that would get you ready for 90 minutes of soccer. New Mexico United players had that same kind of swagger when they took the pitch.
New Mexico has a professional soccer club once again after nearly 20 years. It was like perfect storybook ending. This was the moment and the feeling all-in-one across many New Mexicans faces at the end of a 1-1 draw against visiting Fresno FC. A feeling the New Mexico United and its fans hope will last all season long.
The next match at home for the New Mexico United is on Wednesday March 20, 2019. This upcoming weekend, the New Mexico United go on the road to face 2018 Western Conference Champion, Phoenix Rising FC.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Josh Lane Photography
Christopher Walker is an New Mexico beat writer for the Seek and Strike Collective. Follow him on Twitter @_ChrisWalker505