Prince steps down after 0-1 loss to El Paso

Prince steps down after 0-1 loss to El Paso

After a 0-1 loss to rivals El Paso Locomotive FC, New Mexico United announced that Head Coach and Technical Director Zach Prince was stepping down from the club, effective immediately. Prince is leaving for another opportunity per the club.

Devon Sandoval Night was supposed to be a celebration of the career of the former United forward. For the first half of the match, it appeared that United had a chance to upend the streaking Locomotive. Prince’s club looked confident on the ball and was finding ways to get in behind the El Paso defense. Three times United was able to get into a dangerous position only to see the offside flag go up against the hosts.

El Paso, meanwhile, was steady in their approach and worked their way through United, finding ways to get Eder Borelli and Denys Kostyshyn involved. Throughout the evening, the Ukrainian midfielder peppered United’s goal area with shots, hunting for a way to break the Greek Wall, Alex Tambakis.

Neither side could find an opener in the first half, but El Paso was easily the more threatening of the two. It was in the second half that the visitors were finally able to break through. In the 71st minute, Borelli drifted out to the left wing and delivered a cross into the six-yard box. A late run from Kostyshyn saw him work his way between Kalen Ryden and Austin Yearwood in order to get a header on the ball. The incoming cross drifted inches over the head of Ryden, allowing the midfielder to head the ball into the bottom right corner, giving El Paso the lead, 1-0.

United’s efforts over the course of the night were a mixed bag. While the first half showed that United was capable of competing with the visitors, the effort in the second half seemed to ebb and flow while they struggled to find a rhythm or consistent attack. There was little urgency at times while the Black & Yellow couldn’t find a spark. After the urgency seen against San Antonio, the change was surprising. After mustering nothing of substance, United could not find an equalizer and lost their second match in a row.

In his post-match interview, Prince was disappointed with the result. “We got the ball in some really good spots, but we lacked the final execution. We really limited them in their opportunities, but we lost our mark and that’s how they scored.”

After the match, New Mexico United announced that Zach Prince was stepping down from his position as Head Coach and Technical Director of the club. Prince leaves United for a reported other job. In his tenure as head coach, Prince amassed a record of 17-14-14 (.377) in regular season league play and 19-17-14 (.380) including playoffs and Open Cup play. The club is expected to make an announcement on Monday regarding an interim coach.

Player of the Match

Kyle Colonna – In his second straight start for the first team Colonna played well against a strong El Paso club. Despite an early giveaway in the defensive half, Colonna recovered well and played error-free through the rest of the evening.

“Kyle really stepped up,” said Prince after the match. “We have a ton of injuries right now and Colonna stepping up as a rooking and playing big minutes is huge for us.”

From the Presser

Zach Prince on moving on to his next opportunity: “Just to speak a little bit more on the opportunity presented: It’s in a different league. It’s a different position. And we’ve come to an agreement as clubs, and come to an agreement for personal terms. We’re waiting on the last few I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed. And then it’ll be announced. But it was a great night. Obviously, it’s not the result that I want to end on, but I’m so proud of my time spent here. First, starting as an assistant and building our first roster, and building the academy. Alex Waggoner started tonight. Andres Robles was on the bench. Miles Merritt who’s continuously training with us. Cristian Nava, who was primed and ready for a big year and had an unfortunate injury, which is part of the game. And I can just already see his focus on how he’s going to be coming into next year. He’s primed and ready for a great year and that makes me so proud. It makes me so proud to stand here before you. Last year we had the best points total we’ve ever had, the most wins we’ve ever had, the least amount of losses, best goal differential. So we went from a place where we didn’t make the playoffs. We had a really bad taste in our mouths… missed the playoffs by a point, to having our most successful regular season. That makes me so happy that we put the club back where it needs to be – challenging for a home playoff game right at the end of the season. There are more steps to take and more room to grow, and whoever ends up taking over, they have a very special group. There’s so much love in that locker room, and so, so much hard work in that locker room. This group of players exemplifies our ethos. It’s exactly what our ethos is. And that was definitely the hardest decision – 100% it’s those guys in there, that staff in there. I see the work that they put in every day and man, that made this decision incredibly, incredibly hard. But I’m so thankful for my time here. I’m thankful for you giving me this opportunity to be the head coach and thankful for you (Peter Trevisani) respecting my wanting to pursue what I’m eventually going to be doing. And thank all of you for how great you’ve been to me, all the fans have been so great to me. And the Academy players, you know these kids, man. Andres Robles looks like a grown man right now, and when I first saw him, he was a little kid.”

Zach Prince on this seemingly sudden move: “These opportunities aren’t always timely. Obviously, if I could’ve had this opportunity, it would have been guaranteed that I would have had the opportunity at the end of the season, that’s a completely different picture. But that wasn’t the way it looked. There was a thorough selection process. They offered me the job. I talked to Peter about it and we discussed at length whether it was the right move. I talked to my wife so much about it, because it wasn’t a simple decision. It wasn’t simple, because of how special this place is, and how special those boys are. It’s not a place where I’ve been itching to leave. So, yeah, you’re right. Opportunity, I guess, the right time, because the opportunity came, you know? But, man, it was a really difficult decision. And yeah, it was not easy. But I’m definitely excited for that opportunity. I’m excited about where the club’s headed, in the direction it’s headed, especially with the group of players that we have in there. I’ll Never forget my time here because it was just so special.”

Peter Trevisani on the process: “Zach mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. I can’t tell you the exact date it surfaced as a possibility. So at that point, Zach did a great job of just articulating his mindset and process. And from our point of view, we always talk about positive outcomes for people. You know, Zach came in here five years ago as an assistant coach and helped build the roster. A lot of people know him more in the last year and a half as he’s been head coach, but he really has come in every day, worked hard, believed it, and believed in the club and you can just tell from his emotion that this is more than just a job. This is something that he’s been invested in with his family. He’s built his family in New Mexico. And so we’re really happy for him because it’s so important that we have a platform that encourages everybody to take the next step in their life, in their career, in their journey, whatever that might be, whether it’s a player, a coach or staff member. I think tonight’s really important to focus on, Zach and in the next couple of days will be coming out announcing some plans and we’re going to move forward and get ready for our next game. But tonight is a real moment to reflect on Zach and the great job he’s done for our club.”

Zach Prince on his message to the players: Just how much I care about them, and how difficult the decision was, and the decision was so difficult because of them. And I see just how much work they put in every single day. And so it’s just, that these are the things that are hard in these decisions because it’s real relationships. It’s not that the way I manage isn’t transactional. I don’t look at a player and say, I’m done with you. You’re out. You spend time with those players and the players that are dipping in form or doing really well or whatever. It’s important for me to make them feel valued. And so they make me feel valued. And, so it’s a reciprocal relationship between, you know, the players in the staff. And so that’s what makes it so difficult is the relationship aspect of it. Not just this is a great opportunity for myself, my family, all those types of things, which it is. And the other side of it can be hard as well. And it is hard because I love those guys so much.”

Up Next

For United this week will be a busy one on and off the pitch. Off the pitch, the club will be beginning a search for the next head coach. In the meantime, they will need to instill an interim coach to get them through the foreseeable future. Possible names could include Masaki Hemmi or Junro Narita. On the pitch, United will need to get ready for a tough cross-country trip to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies. That match will take place on Saturday, June 10 with kickoff scheduled for 5:30 p.m. (MT). Andy Hageman and Scott Galetti will have coverage of the match starting at 4:30 p.m. on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM.