To understand just how special New Mexico United supporters are, you have to rewind the clock three years.
It’s 2019 and New Mexico United is starting its inaugural season in USL Championship. The home opener at Isotopes Park has just drawn more than 12,000 fans.
“The first game gave me shivers and chills, and there were several tears around the stadium,” shared Lindsey Allen, President of The Curse supporters group. “We all looked at each other and couldn’t believe it was finally happening.”
As the season rolls along, the team’s popularity shows no signs of stopping. For the entirety of the 2019 season, supporters consistently match or exceed the home opener figure. As a result, the club ends its first season leading the league in average attendance.
But that’s only half of it. For many, the league-leading 12,000+ attendance figure wasn’t the most notable number from that first season. The big number was 180.
While New Mexico United was making its way through the start of the 2019 USL season, the club was also finding success in the U.S. Open Cup. First by beating two league rivals in Phoenix and Colorado Springs, then moving up a level to Major League Soccer opponents.
In the fourth round, hundreds of New Mexico United supporters loaded into buses, vans, and cars to make their way to Denver for the fourth round match against the Colorado Rapids. No one thought the first-year club would do it, but thanks to a last-minute equalizer and penalties, New Mexico won that match and advanced.
So what did the fans do for the fifth round? One week after they just caravaned north to witness the historic win against Colorado, New Mexico United supporters packed themselves into buses and cars again, this time for a 10-hour drive to Dallas.
And yet again, New Mexico did the unthinkable and took down another MLS opponent.
That meant the club was now moving on to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup for a match against Minnesota United. But instead of rallying supporters for a 20+ hour drive on a weekday, fans got creative.
As soon as they won in Dallas, the New Mexico faithful began devising plans to travel to Minnesota. Within days, they had a solution.
Thanks to a local bank that subsidized a large chunk of the cost, the club chartered its own plane to Minnesota. Fans would fly up the morning of the game and fly back the next day. What the club didn’t know is that it could have used quite a few more planes.
When the news was shared and the purchase link went live, New Mexico United supporters nearly crashed the page.
Thousands of people were trying to secure one of the 180 seats on the plane. Within minutes, the plane was sold out and by the end of the day, the link had more than 20,000 clicks (yes, you read that number right).
Many of those who couldn’t grab a seat on the plan still found their way to Minnesota and when matchday arrived, hundreds of black and yellow-clad fans packed the east end corner of Allianz Field. While the team ultimately lost the match, that game and the entire year of 2019 will go down as one to remember in New Mexico United history.
Since then, New Mexico is consistently among the best of the best within U.S. soccer.
In addition to filling out Isotopes Park for home matches, the fans work hard to make a difference in the community. Guided by their slogan, “Somos Unidos” (We Are United), the New Mexico United supporters are some of the most active members of the community.
Said Lindsay, “We are always looking for ways to make a positive impact. We have raised money when a police officer was killed in Las Cruces, partnered with a local nonprofit to do 300 loads of laundry for underprivileged families, and worked with one of our players to build soccer pitches in Uganda.”
The list goes on.
Just last year, local supporter Chris Walker created a new supporters group, Black Diamonds, to grow Black engagement in the sport and double down on the previous impact of New Mexico’s fan base. Almost as soon as he founded the group, he launched a fundraising campaign to support a free youth soccer program for underrepresented youth in New Mexico.
“New Mexico is family,” shared Chris. “People here take you in, cook for you, and treat you as part of their own. And that’s what we try to rub off on other people when they come through.”
In every corner of the state, New Mexico United supporters are leaving a positive mark on the place they call home. And at just three years young, the sky is the limit for what The Curse, Black Diamonds, and the rest of the New Mexico United supporters will do next.