EL PASO, Texas – With Monterey Bay F.C. on the horizon, El Paso Locomotive FC’s locker room is focused on one thing only: Three Points.
The 2022 USL Championship has admittedly not been a dream start for the Sun City club. Four games into the regular season without a point and an early exit from the Lamar Hunt Open Cup has left an air of frustration around El Paso. While Head Coach John Hutchinson and his men are hurt and bitterly disappointed, morale is still high, and the entire team is focused on the few things they can control.
“We know we haven’t been in good shape. It’s frustrating,” said Midfielder Chapa Herrera. “But we get another chance tomorrow against a new team – against Monterey Bay. If we get these three points, it’s an opportunity for us to change the season and start from there.”
That’s the sentiment of the entire Locomotive locker room as they head into the fifth game of a 34-game USL Championship season. One win is all it will take to get the train moving on the winning track and putting El Paso Locomotive back to where fans across the nation expect the team to be.
The team certainly sees and feels the frustrations of the fans, but instead of letting the voices of the Locomotive passionate bring them down, they are using it as fuel to fire to get the engine running. To the Locomotive coaching staff and the men in the locker room, the criticisms of the team from the Loco faithful are proof that El Paso deeply cares about this team and the players. The fans want a win and three points on the table as bad as the team itself does. Truly, El Paso is together and united in even the club’s darkest hours.
“El Paso is used to winning,” said Midfielder Emmanuel Sonupe. “Everyone who has come in here wants to carry that on. It hasn’t been a great start but it’s still very early and there are still so many points to play for. The team’s morale is actually in a good place where most would think it’s probably not. We have got quality in the team and we just need to start showing that.”
With only a few days to separate the Open Cup loss and the USL Championship regular season match against Monterey Bay, El Paso Locomotive has been against drilling in the key defensive areas it knows it needs to improve on. The long ball has continually proven to be dangerous for El Paso and Coach Hutchinson expects that the first-time visitors will be aiming to exploit that.
After taking a day of rest following the travel from California back to Texas, El Paso hit the training fields focused again on transitioning from front to back and protecting their own net from the longballs that have been dismantling so far this season. While it’s uncertain of course when El Paso’s woes will begin to turn around, the club is full throttle in its efforts to right the wrongs sooner rather than later.
“The majority of the people that have watched our football this year can see what it’s about,” said Coach John Hutchinson. “I’ll fight every single day for the players, the fans, the club, and I’ll be here. It’s the Aussie way. The Aussie way is to have a go. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my life at home – ‘have a go.’ We’ll keep having a go and we will keep fighting. We’re going to go in with a game plan that the players understand.”
There is an air of confidence in the Locomotive locker room as the squad looks towards Monterey Bay. The expansion club finds itself in a somewhat similar position as El Paso Locomotive, having played four games, losing three, and securing a single win against Oakland Roots SC. The Crisp & Kelp club similarly made an early exit from Open Cup play after conceding a stoppage-time goal in the second half to Bay City FC on Wednesday. Both teams find themselves on the lower end of the Western Conference table in the early weeks and El Paso sees this game as its opportunity to put itself back on track with what is seen as a critical must-win three points.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is that steps in front of El Paso Locomotive, the focus is on securing a win and three points for the fans and the club. The focus is getting a win and setting the club off on the right track back to the top of the Western Conference.