The 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will have a little extra New Mexico flavor.
Not only will New Mexico United be involved in second-round action, it will host another in-state opponent in a match at Rio Rancho Stadium on Tuesday, April 4.
Plenty of moving parts came into play for what will ultimately be United’s first “home” appearance of the season. United will take on New Mexico State University’s UDA team, an open division amateur squad, for a 7 p.m. game.
Who is NMSU UDA, you ask?
The alphabet soup represents a New Mexico State University affiliated University Degrees Abroad academy club that plays its home games in Las Cruces. The upstart club comprised of college-age players defeated Park City Red Wolves of USL League Two by a 1-0 margin at NMSU’s soccer field Wednesday night in a first-round U.S. Open Cup contest.
The win earned NMSU UDA a shot at United. U.S. Soccer, which determines sites and dates for Open Cup matches, announced that United will host the second-round contest.
Why Rio Rancho High School?
Neither Isotopes Park nor UNM’s soccer stadium is available on April 4. The Albuquerque Isotopes host Salt Lake for their home opener on that date, while UNM’s field is undergoing irrigation upgrades.
“We had to get creative,” United communications director David Carl said. “We’d hosted clinics at Rio Rancho High School and knew they had a good facility with a good field, so we called to inquire about playing there. Fortunately, things fell into place.”
Rental fee for the facility was roughly $2,000, Carl said.
Executive Director of Athletics for Rio Rancho Public Schools Bruce Carver said Rio Rancho Stadium seats about 4,200 people, far fewer than United regularly gets for its games at Isotopes Park.
For United, it’s an opportunity to play in front of the home fans earlier than expected. The team’s USL Championship home opener is April 15, coming after three consecutive road matches.
For NMSU UDA, its an unexpected bonus. The club had to survive three rounds of qualifying just to earn a spot in the 100-team U.S. Open Cup field, then knocked off Park City 1-0 on a 79th-minute penalty kick by Jose Luis Pente Rivas on March 22.
United president/CEO Peter Trevisani was delighted to see an all-New Mexico contest take shape.
“We’re so excited to bring the nation’s oldest knockout tournament to Rio Rancho,” Trevisani said. “The state of soccer in New Mexico is strong. This all-New Mexico U.S. Open Cup matchup is proof of that strength.”
Round three of the U.S. Open Cup is set for April 25-26, which could allow United to host a match at Isotopes Park if it advances. Matchups and sites will be announced at the conclusion of round two.
Tickets for the April 4 match are $18 for general admission. Rio Rancho Public Schools students and staff members will be admitted for $5. Tickets can be purchased online at newmexicoutd.com.