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2021 Fan Awards: Defender of the Year

By El Paso Locomotive FC, 11/13/21, 9:00AM MST


Who Has Earned Your Vote for the 2021 Defender of the Year?

It’s that time of year where we start looking back at the 2021 USL Championship season, cast our votes, and give out some awards. Next up in the 2021 Fan Awards, we have Attacker of the Year. With 13 clean sheets and only 35 goals conceded, El Paso Locomotive finished with the second-best defense across both the Eastern and Western Conferences. The nominees for this year are Macauley ‘Macca’ King, Eder Borelli, Mechack Jerome, Matt Bahner, and Yuma. These select few put on incredible displays throughout the 2021 season, and now it’s your turn to vote for who earns the 2021 Defender of the Year.

Cast your vote below, and remember, you can vote once a day so make sure to come back and vote again until we announce the winner next week!

Not sure who to vote for? Read below to get a rundown on each player and how they created one of the most ironclad defenses in the league.

Macca King

Photo by Paul Sandoval/El Paso Locomotive FC

Get yourself a player who can both attack and defend. While he showed what he can do in 2020 when he joined El Paso Locomotive FC, 2021 was a step up for Macca King. A clinical finisher at the end of set pieces, Macca King found six goals, all coming from the end of dead ball situations. Macca managed to find himself in wide-open areas, unmarked, and free to redirect the ball for a goal. The few times he wasn’t unmarked, he still managed to get a foot to the ball, once even finding the back of the net with the defender directly on top of him. Outside of set pieces, Macca’s box-to-box play down the wing and ability to send in pin-point crosses paid off in deadly chances that found the back of the net three times. On the other side of the ball, King made 47 clearances and 21 interceptions while winning 25 out of 37 tackles throughout the season. Playing and starting in 24 out of 24 games, Macca makes a strong case to earn your vote for 2021 Defender of the Year.

Eder Borelli

Photo by Paul Sandoval/El Paso Locomotive FC

The defending Defender of the Year, Eder Borelli once again showed why he is one of the best defenders in the league. Another box-to-box defender, Eder made runs up and down the wing to get deep into the attack but also fall back to defend when necessary. Across 29 games played, Eder made 25 clearances and 35 interceptions while winning 53 out of 73 (72%) of his duels to help Locomotive secure one of the tightest nets in the league. In the attack, Eder recorded one goal and assisted three others. One of the most disciplined and hard-working players across the entire league, Eder showed once again why he was named the Fan Awarded 2020 Defender of the Year for El Paso Locomotive and has made himself another strong candidate to take the award once again.

Mechack Jerome

Photo by Paul Sandoval/El Paso Locomotive FC

Look around the league for a more reliable center back than Mechack Jerome, and you would be hardpressed to find one. Playing in 26 games through the 2021 season, Mechack came through as a stalwart defender time and time again. The Haitian defender led the team with 86 clearances and nine blocked shots while winning 11 out of 17 tackles to keep the net secure. On more than one occasion he protected the net as a last line of defense, making goal line clearances on the rare occasions an opposing attacker managed to beat Logan Ketterer. Mechack’s diligence and read of the makes one of the best defenders in the league and one of five clear choices for this year’s 2021 Fan Award’s Defender of the Year.

Matt Bahner

Arguably the most versatile defender on the Locomotive roster, Matt Bahner can slot in anywhere you’ll need him, and he will play like a natural. From the right back position, all the way to the left, and everything in between, Matt will get the job done. After 26 appearances in the 2021 season, Matt once again showed his versatility and his work rate, helping El Paso Locomotive claim 13 clean sheets while conceding only 35 goals. The American made 37 clearances to halt the opposing attack while winning 25 out of 37 tackles and making 21 interceptions. A true threat in the defensive third to the opposition, Matt came up big whenever the squad needed him most and was a consistent defender throughout the year. There is also always the bonus of earning an assist and a goal, especially when that goal silences a New Mexico United lead to steal a point away from Isotopes Park.


The mainstay captain of 2021, Spanish Defender Yuma controlled the Locomotive backline over 22 appearances. As an in-your-face center back, Yuma would bravely halt the opposition before they caused any real threat to our own goal. Yuma won 74 out of 124 duels, won 19 out of 31 tackles, while blocking 10 shots and making 36 clearances. The no-nonsense defender regained possession through interceptions 31 times and commanded the backline to tighten up gaps and close down opposition passing lanes. Another one of the best defenders in the league, Yuma put his heart and soul out on the field from the first whistle to the last. However, his contributions to the team didn’t end in the confines of the pitch. Off the pitch, Yuma was a leader to the locker room in attitude and work ethic. One of the hardest working players on the team, Yuma always came to training with an upbeat attitude to keep team spirits high even when he himself was out on injury. A true leader in the locker room, Yuma would be a quality choice for Locomotives 2022 Fan Award Defender of the Year.

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