We continue with our 2021 Fan Awards, where we look back at the 2021 USL Championship season, cast our votes, and give out awards for the best in each category. The final category in the Fan Awards is the 2021 Most Valuable Player Award. It’s been said by some that El Paso Locomotive has many great individuals, but the sum of its parts is greater than any individual. While it’s true Locomotive works better as a complete unit with the ‘We, Not Me’ mentality that has been instilled into the locker room since Day 1, it’s also important to recognize the individual contributions of each player on the pitch. To that end, we have our nominees for Most Valuable Player in Lucho Solignac, Macca King, Nick Ross, Diego Luna, and Eder Borelli.
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 which goal to vote for? Read below to get a rundown on the players and why they are more than deserving of your vote for MVP.
A nominee for 2021 Attacker of the Year, Lucho came into the Locomotive squad for 2021 and made a much-needed impact in the attacking half of the ball. His contributions on the ball started out slowly at first – outside of the club record 18-second goal in the second game of the season – but it exploded by the end of the season. Lucho became the Club’s clinical finisher, scoring 10 goals and 7 assists for a total of 17 contributed goals this year. The Argentine striker found himself on the Team of the Week twice throughout the 2021 season, with one of those being named the Player of the Week. His goal against Rio Grande Valley FC landed Top 4 on ESPN’s SportsCenter and earned the USL Championship’s Goal of the Week. Lucho’s presence on the field bolstered El Paso Locomotive’s attack, helping the club earn a season-best 56 goals, making him a worthy name for MVP.
Macca had a stellar 2020 year. Throughout the shortened season, he came in and slotted perfectly into the fullback position for El Paso Locomotive. In 2021, Macca only got better. Defensively, Macca helped keep the Locomotive goal one of the most secure across the entire league, helping earn 13 clean sheets with 47 clearances, 21 interceptions, and winning 25 out of 37 tackles. On the offensive side of the ball, Macca was a target man for set pieces. At the end of corner kicks and dead-ball situations, Macca was able to convert six goals, including a goal that saw a half bicycle kick with a defender practically in the same space as him. His work ethic earned him four Team of the Week honors, including a three-week straight run between Week 7 to Week 9, becoming the first Locomotive defender and only the second Locomotive player ever to accomplish the feat. A box-to-box defender that was as clinical on the wing as he was defensively, Macca has a strong case not only for Defender of the Year – where he was a nominee – but for Most Valuable Player in 2021.
Nick Ross is a silent workhorse in the defensive midfield for El Paso Locomotive FC. Throughout the season, he has been an engine that has kept this team running. Nick played in 31 of Locomotive’s 32 game regular season, earning 25 starts in the process. With three goals and five assists throughout the year, Nick Ross may just be one of the most underrated players on the entire squad. The Scotsman was second on the team in numbers of passes and boasted an 88.6% passing accuracy. He made 35 key passes to set the Locos up for a goal while leading the team in interceptions with 42. His silent but crucial work in the back of the midfield was recognized with two Team of the Week nods, one in the Starting XI in Week 26 and the other on the bench for Week 16. Easily one of the most exceptional players to put on the Locomotive jersey, Nick Ross has as strong a claim as anyone else on this list to be named 2021’s Most Valuable Player.
The young rising star in the Locomotive squad immediately impacted the club from nearly his very first touch on the ball. Coming into the opening match of the season as a sub, Luna set the cross to Aaron Gomez who headed the ball to Leandro Carrijo for the goal. Since then, Luna has been one of the best the Locos have to offer in the midfield. The now 18-Year-Old recorded nine goals and four assists and out-played defenders far more his veteran. With his work ethic in the midfield, Luna led the team in chances created with 37 key passes. That same work ethic turned heads across the nation as Luna earned three USL Championship Team of the Week accolades, once on the bench and twice in the Starting XI. To cap off the season, Luna earned a nod to join the USMNT U-20 team for the Revelations Cup in Mexico, where he represented both club and country with just under 120 minutes of play and a goal to show for it. With such an impact in his first professional year, Luna earns his nod as a nominee for the 2021 Fan Award MVP.
The 2020 winner and 2021 nominee of the Locomotive Fan Award Defender of the Year, and the reigning El Paso Locomotive FC MVP after claiming the title after the 2020 season, Eder Borelli was once again one of the most consistent defenders on the backline. Appearing in 29 matches, starting in 27, Eder garnered the second-highest total play on the Locomotive squad with 2,431 minutes through the regular season. A defender moonlighting as an attacker on the wing at times, Eder went from box-to-box, defending the backline to help create the second-most secure backline in the league while simultaneously helping Locomotive to the most successful attacking season in its three-year history by pushing the ball forward and putting crosses into the final third. Eder made 25 clearances, 35 interceptions and won 72% of all of his tackles in the season. On the other side of the ball, Eder completed 82% of all his passes including 30 key passes to help set the club up for success. Eder is a constant on the backline that found himself with four USL Championship Team of the Week callings and is fully deserving of a nod for the 2021 Fan Award Most Valuable Player.