A head coach for New Mexico United has stepped down and is now on staff with the New York Red Bulls. Sounds familiar, right?
Former NMU manager Zach Prince was officially announced as an assistant coach.
Considering the fact he’ll once again be working with Troy Lesesne, who he’s shared both the field and sideline with, the move is no real shock.
“Troy being the head coach is definitely a part of the equation,” Prince said about taking the job with his former teammate.
“But a massive part of the equation is the New York Red Bulls. The reason I say that is because I admire the club so much; I’ve studied this club, studied this style of play — their way of approaching the game — for a long time now.”
For sickos like me, Prince’s resume and previous experience are interesting. For normal people, the former professional soccer player and lower-division coach is probably a new name.
Things have been going well since coach Lesesne took over. Maybe more New Mexico influence is a good thing?
Not A King, But a Prince
Like coach Lesesne, Zach Prince’s upbringing in life and soccer revolves around South Carolina. During Prince’s years at the College of Charleston, he played under Lesesne, who was the men’s soccer assistant coach.
Following college, he went professional for his local USL side, the Charleston Battery. Between 2010 and 2016, he played as a midfielder and played in nearly 200 career games. Again, his paths crossed regularly with Lesesne at this time. Troy was an assistant coach for the Battery in 2014. Then for Prince’s last two seasons, he played against him as Lesesne joined the nearby Charlotte Independence as an assistant coach.
After retiring in 2016, it wasn’t too surprising to see him join New Mexico United in 2019 as its first assistant coach. With Lesesne taking a head coaching job for the first time, surrounding himself with familiar, able faces was a predictable move. For three seasons, he saw NMU grow from the sidelines and had an extensive role with the New Mexico United Academy.
The New Man In New Mexico
Two weeks after the 2021 season concluded, Prince was named the second head coach in New Mexico United history. It was known Troy Lesesne was leaving, so the appointment of an in-house assistant coach made sense.
His first season coaching a professional team went fairly well. New Mexico returned to the playoffs after finishing 5th in the western conference. Though it also included a dreadful end to the regular season. The team entered the playoffs, winning only two of its last 13 games. The quick exit wasn’t a shock, but there was plenty to build on.
Midway through the 2023 season, New Mexico has fallen down the western conference, however. The team is currently below the eight-team playoff line. An offense lacking a top goal scorer has seen United slip down, but a nice defense has kept them afloat. A -1 goal differential means the team is barely allowing more goals than they score.
The Role Ahead
At his introductory press conference earlier this week, head coach Troy Lesesne said Prince was one of the first people he called for the job. He knows the type of coach he is and the type of person he is too.
He remembers the efforts Prince went through in New Mexico to set up clinics and trials for potential players, just to potentially only select a few.
For Lesesne, he knows Prince’s eye for talent will be critical moving forward.
“He’ll be a connector between the first team, second team, and Academy,” Lesesne said.
“That’s extremely important for someone to always be connected — I hope to play that role, as well, because we have the resources. We have, from Academy to the second team, one of the best setups in the league.”
Zach Prince’s first game as assistant coach will be on Wednesday, June 21. The New York Red Bulls return home following an international break.
Ironically, their opponent will be none other than North Carolina side Charlotte FC.