The El Paso Locomotive FC will kick off its inaugural 2019 season on March 9 at Southwest University Park. The USL season runs for 33 weeks, ending on Oct. 20.
Here are seven things to know about the team:
Rich history, forward momentum
The Locomotive FC name pays homage to the region’s rich railroad history and the city’s forward momentum. The team is part of the USL, the second-highest level of professional soccer in the United States behind Major League Soccer.
Meaning behind the crest
The locomotive engine has 11 bars that represent the team’s 11 players on the field. The top outline represents El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, while the bottom outline represents the region’s mission style architecture. The Star on the Mountain is also represented on the crest.
What teams will the Locomotive play against?
The USL has about 115 teams separated into three leagues. The Locomotive will play in the Western Division / USL Championship against teams like the Oklahoma City Energy, Austin Bold, Las Vegas Lights, LA Galaxy Phoenix Rising and San Antonio FC.
Two borderland athletes will be part of the team – Omar Eduardo Salgado and Louis “Chapa” Herrera.
Herrera, 22, graduated from Bel Air High School and had been working in construction before being invited to try out for the team. He will play as a midfielder.
Salgado, 25, who grew up in El Paso and Juárez, attended Cathedral High School. He will play as a forward and has played for Club Deportivo Guadalajara, known as the Chivas. He has played for the U.S. National Teams and in Major League Soccer and Liga MX.
Locomotive coach Mark Lowry was born and raised in Birmingham, England. He was the head coach at Jacksonville Armada before coming to El Paso, and has also worked as an assistant coach, player scout and more with various teams. He played a lot of soccer when he was young, signing with a professional academy when he was 12.
Sharing a stadium
The team will play at Southwest University Park – where the El Paso Chihuahuas now play – until the team owners (and local officials) build a permanent home specifically for soccer and the Locomotive.
How will they share? A retractable mound that can be moved in 15 minutes will help it go from a baseball to a soccer stadium. The stripes will be redrawn to fit each sport, and the bases and goals will be added as needed.
The Locomotive is not just about USL soccer in the stadium – the team will offer special camps for youth and development programs to help young players learn the skills they need to become professional soccer players – and maybe play for the Locomotive one day.