On El Paso Locomotive’s bench on Saturday, there were a lot of new faces. Midfielders Diego Luna and Jose Aguinaga as well as Forward Aidan Apodaca each started on the sidelines for Locomotive, while Forward Luis Solignac made his appearance in the Starting XI. Joining the new Locomotive players, however, is also a new face on the technical staff: Assistant Coach Dominic Casciato.
In the transition from the 2020 season to the 2021 season, Head Coach and Technical Director Mark Lowry has emphasized the need to be clinical in front of the goal. Over the first two years, Locomotive has improved its ability to create chances and take shots, but the conversion rate has been less than ideal for the Sun City team. Enter, Casciato.
As a new Assistant Coach, Casciato's focus will be on the Attacking Principles for El Paso Locomotive FC. His main job as part of the Technical Staff is to build on the already well-established Locomotive attacking front, conducting drills on the training pitch to help Locomotive have bite in the final third.
“Coming here I want to add some value and hopefully help find the net a little bit more,” said Casciato, after training on Tuesday. “The work that Mark Lowry, [Assistant Coach] Matt Williams, and [Goalkeeper Coach] JC Garzon are doing already has been fantastic. There is a reason why the team has made it to two Western Conference Finals in a row. Now, if we could get a little bit sharper in the final third, we could go all the way.”
Joining Locomotive early in the offseason, Casciato has had time to learn the strengths and the weaknesses of Locomotive while working with Mark Lowry and Assistant Coach Matt Williams to learn the style of play and culture of El Paso. His insights have so far proven valuable in the preseason, helping lead to Locomotive running away with a 5-0 win over FC Tucson, while claiming telling victories over New Mexico United and Colorado Springs Switchbacks, 2-1 and 3-1, respectively.
His work in how to make this happen has been to focus training drills on recreating game-like situations as much as possible, as many times as possible.
“We’re making sure the forwards are getting plenty of repetitions similar to the situations there are going to be put in into the game,” explained the London, England native. “Getting quick shots off, reacting quickly to rebounds, and getting onto the end of crosses.”
The first test came last Saturday, showing the work rate behind a Leandro Carrijo goal that equalized the scoring late. While Locomotive chances weren’t plenty, of the 10 shots the team did take, four were on frame and forced United goalkeeper Alex Tambakis into big-time saves to protect the scoring.
“Firstly, the stadium itself is a beautiful stadium. Sometimes you can go into these new stadiums and it can feel a little bit soulless,” said Casciato following Saturday’s 1-1 Home Opener against New Mexico United. “But ours feels like there is some history and tradition there. The fans were great, you can hear them from the bench. They were really loud the whole game and obviously, we gave them a nice ending to the game.”
It’s only the beginning of the season for Locomotive, and there is still plenty of work to do for Dominic Casciato, along with the rest of the technical staff, but the former New York Cosmos assistant coach is excited to be a part of the Borderland.
“I love El Paso,” started Casciato. “the city itself is a unique place to live, being so close to Mexico. My wife is Hispanic, so I love Hispanic culture and language. I’m also a big fan of the tacos as well, so really enjoying that side of it. In terms of the club, you really couldn’t ask for anything more. We have a fantastic staff here and a real good mix in the locker room between experienced guys and younger guys. We’ve got all the ingredients to do really well this season.”