New Mexico United brings unique strategy to homefield advantage

New Mexico United brings unique strategy to homefield advantage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Win at home. Its something that many coaches preach to its players, but often times there isn’t a true “home field advantage.” Eric Quill has found one with New Mexico United.

In years past, United has struggled to close out its games at Isotopes Park, but this season is off to a different start. Through four games at home, United is undefeated and has outscored its opponents 6-1 in the first half.

Starting fast is something that Coach Quill has emphasized, and he is doing it by taking advantage of a luxury that most teams don’t have. Game planning around his hometown elevation.

When Quill took over as head coach, he realized that playing games in high altitude was something that he could exploit. Visiting teams aren’t accustomed to the thinner air and can become fatigued much quicker. While there are many teams that play home games at similar elevations, superior conditioning is typically the only advantage. Coach Quill, however, figured out how to attack while his opponent is acclimating to playing with less oxygen.

“Trying to keep the ball for long periods of time and make them chase,” said Quill. “So, in the very early stages of the game, which especially is the time in which the altitude hurts opponents is the first 25 to 30 minutes, and really put teams under while they’re trying to catch their breath. On the defensive side, pressing them and making them play under stress when they’re tired from just winning the ball back after a long spell of possession. They’re tired and fatigued, so we can counter press and get their heads down and make them feel like they’re being suffocated.”

In order to make this strategy work, Quill needed a specific skillset from his players. He made do with the roster he inherited when hired in the middle of last season, however, he has since made over 20 roster transitions to fit this style of play.

“I had to kind of figure out the algorithm to player profiles that we had… We had an offseason to build a roster with guys that can press and guys that are tidy and technical and can play under stress when they’re being pressured. So you can see the difference, and it’s working.”

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