NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The New Mexico United U-23 Team is about a month away from its first match of the season. U-23 and Academy head coach Luke Sanford spoke with the media on Thursday and addressed the state of the team.

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The academy has also shown that it can truly develop players and get them to the next level. In United’s last match, former academy player and Albuquerque high school alum Christian Nava made his first start for the black and yellow and played the full 90 minutes. Academy coach Luke Sanford said that Nava provided a spark for his players and is a great example of what the program can do for development.

“When [the team] came in yesterday, there was an energy,” said Sanford. “I think that there’s excitement when they see that kind of thing, obviously they’re still tight with Christian and friends with him. I think that’s a real thing for our club, but you also have to be good enough. So, I think for them that’s a motivator. The ones that are close still have a ways to go, and they need to keep improving, but at least they can see that [coach Prince] is serious when he talks about the potential there.”

The club also signed the two players to the academy team from the southern part of the state this week. Darius Bishop, 17, hails from Artesia, New Mexico, and Artesia high school. The center back has versatility, playing both forward and midfield. Anthony Sifuentes, 17, led Gadsen high school to a district championship in 2021 as a forward. He is from Anthony, New Mexico.

The U-23 season will begin on May 26.