United Academy helps future soccer stars reach their goals
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico United has grown a huge fanbase in the last few years. Now, another soccer team is seeing success – the United Academy team. High school stars are following in the senior team’s footsteps.
The United Academy team is finishing up its second season. The team helps students develop with top-of-the-line resources, and it comes at no cost to the athletes or their families.
This week is championship week for the boys. They packed up their cleats and jerseys on Wednesday to travel to Tampa Bay for the USL Academy League playoffs. Last year, they didn’t do so bad either, even as a brand-new team.
“The goal is to get further than third place, ultimately, to win it,” said midfielder Andres Robles. “We did pretty good last year and we’re just trying to build on that.”
In New Mexico, the United soccer team is one of the few professional sports teams the community has to root for. With the Academy team connected directly to United soccer, it not only gives the youth opportunities to compete with the best across the country – but it also makes their dreams of playing professionally feel closer than ever.
“One of the purposes, it’s not the purpose of this program, but one of them, is to continue to produce players that can contribute in our first team,” said Luke Sandford, head coach for United Academy. “They’re given that opportunity, and if they’re good enough, they’re given that shot.”
With every player taken care of through fundraising, sponsorships and other ways of raising money, this leaves no boundaries for New Mexico talent to make it to the next level.
“It makes me feel free, like, I’ve never felt so grateful in my life for United, just to have everything, it just helps so much to focus on things we need to focus on,” said center Miles Merritt.
The United Academy team has won three games so far in the USL Academy playoffs.