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Staying on Track with the Locos

By Derick Fox, 01/07/22, 4:30PM MST

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A Summary of the All the Locomotive Updates So Far This Off-Season

Since the end of the 2021 USL Championship, the El Paso Locomotive FC offices have been busy, putting in motion the preparations for the 2022 season. So much has happened with players coming and going, as well as a change in coaching personnel, it can get pretty easy to lose track of what is happening at El Paso Locomotive if you aren’t paying acute attention.

With that said, I’m here to keep you on track (pun intended) with a recap of everything happening at the club.

Familiar and New Players

From November to the end of December, there has been a lot of player announcements from Locomotive FC. While some notable names have departed the club and are moving on into the next steps of their careers, there are many names that will be staying in Loco Blue for the 2022 season as well as a couple of new faces to join the roster.

Among the many faces returning are long-time Locomotive veterans Richie Ryan, Yuma, Andrew Fox, as well as Borderlands natives, Chapa Herrera and Aaron Gomez. The five Locomotive legends each return for their fourth year for the club, creating a lasting legacy in the Sun City. Joining them are some familiar faces from the incredible 2021 season that saw Locomotive not only stay undefeated at Southwest University Park throughout the regular season but also held on to the then longest actively running home undefeated streak in North American professional soccer. Lucho Solignac, Dylan Mares, Sebástian Velásquez, Ricardo Zacarias, and 18-year-old Diego Luna make up the attacking front while Matt Bahner and Eder Borelli return to help keep the backbone of a league-best defense.

Of course, silly season is more than just familiar faces coming and going. It’s also about new players joining the roster.

So far announced, midfielder Emmanuel Sonupé comes to El Paso from England where he graduated from the prestigious Tottenham Hotspur Academy before playing with various English clubs such as Stevenage, Kidderminster Harriers, and in Scotland with St. Mirren. The young 25-year-old English winger has a burst of speed that Locomotive has really yet to see, adding an exciting element to what has been set up to be a new attacking form for El Paso Locomotive.

Joining Sonupé as a new face in Loco Blue is Martín Payares, a Colombian defender who has played his full professional career in the Colombian topflight, Primera A. Standing at six feet, Payares bolsters the defense as an experienced centerback. Having played primarily with Boyacá Patriot and Cortuluá, Payares will be stepping into new territory with El Paso in the USL Championship but is already a promising figure with his defensive read of the game to help keep Locomotive as one of the best defensive teams in the league.

There are still two more months before Locomotive kicks off its season on March 12, meaning there are still two more months for us to plenty of new faces joining El Paso Locomotive. Still left questioning is who will anchor the roster in goal and what other exciting prospects will join the squad.

Regardless of who joins, they will meet a quality criterion of ambition and a team-first mentality that will keep El Paso as a serious contender for the top of the USL Championship.

New Man in Charge

El Paso Locomotive FC has a new man at the helm of the club with John Hutchinson. Taking over as the new Locomotive Head Coach, Hutchinson is instilling a new vision while building off the incredible success that El Paso has seen over its first three years. While keeping with the team-first mentality that El Paso has already had ingrained into its culture, Hutchinson is keen on putting more of an emphasis on ambition. Coach Hutchinson is looking to build a squad that features players and a technical staff that is eager to not just succeed but has a passion and desire to improve and be better.

There is no room for complacency. Coach Hutchinson wants a team that is hungry for more. Hungry for goals to hopefully earn the win, and, maybe most importantly, hungry to win trophies. He wants players that are eager to improve and take their game to the next level, even if that means they eventually move on to another club. This means these players will go onto the field and play like they have everything to prove. They will play with a level of ambition that will hopefully get them noticed by other clubs or their own national teams. Hutchinson is after a squad that will put leave everything on the pitch.

The new Head Coach has already established he wants to play an exciting brand of soccer. He has already started bringing speed into the roster while keeping the club’s prolific goal scorers. Hutchinson doesn’t just want to win; he wants to win by multiple-goal margins. He wants fans to get excited. He wants to hear Southwest University Park get loud as the club continues its incredible regular-season home unbeaten streak.

El Paso Locomotive FC has entered a new era. The Coach Hutchinson Era. While it will be a noticeable departure from what Locomotive fans are used to, it is an exciting departure that is certain to revitalize the club and build off the outstanding foundation that has been established in the first three years of play.

The 2022 Season

There are no more questions about it! After a couple of months of chomping at the bits, eagerly waiting to hear when we will be able to see our favorite Texas team play again, we finally have our answer. Earlier in the week, the USL Championship unveiled its 2022 regular season Home Openers, of which we got a glimpse at two of Locomotive’s 34 game season.

We know that El Paso Locomotive will kick off its 2022 USL Championship season on March 12 on the road against Sacramento Republic – a team that has yet to get the better of El Paso. After four meetings, including one in the 2019 Playoffs, Locomotive dominates the all-time series 4-0-0. Three of those wins did come from Southwest University Park, most recently in mid-September where El Paso shut out the Californian team, 2-0. In fact, the last time El Paso visited Heart Health Park was in September 2019, where it picked up a 2-1 win courtesy of a stoppage-time equalizer from Aaron Gomez.

We also know that we will be back to Southwest University Park for the first time since November on March 19, when the Sun City club hosts its most intense rival, New Mexico United. Locomotive has played New Mexico United a plethora of times, thanks to the divisional groups over the 2020 and 2021 seasons. With every match, the rivalry has only deepened and grown more intense. After 11 games, including the dramatic 2020 Western Conference Semifinal, the all-time series is split 2-2-7. The two sides played one another last year in El Paso’s home opener, ending the match in a thrilling 1-1 draw after Locomotive equalized the scoring in stoppage time. This will serve as a spiritual rematch as Locomotive helps kick off its season with one of the most intense games of soccer it could.

Though tickets are not on sale as of yet, fans can become eligible for priority purchasing for Locomotive game tickets by signing up for the ticket waiting list by clicking here. Fans can also lock in their seats for the entire 2022 USL Championship season at Southwest University Park by visiting eplocomotivefc.com/seasontickets or by calling or texting 915-235-GOAL.

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