Leandro Carrijó playing crucial role for Locomotive FC off the bench

Locomotive FC

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Locomotive FC continues to be the class of the Western Conference Mountain Division, and a big reason for it is their depth.

Locomotive has one of the deepest rosters across the USL Championship, but with so many mouths to feed, many wondered if head coach Mark Lowry could get each of his players to buy into their specific role on the team. Lowry has been the man for the job. Through 20 games this season, Locomotive has not only bought into their individual roles, they’ve embraced it.

There’s no greater example of that than forward Leandro Carrijó. At 36-years-old, Carrijó has had a decorated career across the globe. However, he more times than not finds himself on the bench to begin a match. However, Lowry has carved out a role for the Brazilian native to come off the bench and score goals when El Paso needs them most. Carrijó has scored three goals this season, two of which have come at the death to steal a point for Locomotive, most recently against Orange County SC last Friday night.

“I have to do my best and I have to do it for my teammates,” said Carrijó. “At the end of the game, I scored a goal and I helped the team get the one point, which is always good for us.”

The big moments seem to find Carrijó naturally, something that will serve Lowry and the team well late in the season and into the playoffs.

“He has embraced it because he’s a professional,” said Lowry. “We play a very dynamic system that involves a lot of work. At this stage in his career, he probably can’t do that every week. But what he gives us off the bench is an incredible amount of experience. He has an eye for a goal in important moments.”

Carrijó is far from the only role player on this Locomotive roster. It was something Lowry carefully considered with each of his players while constructing this year’s team.

“We use our players how we feel is best suited for the team to win the game,” said Lowry. “We know brining Leandro {Carrijó} off the bench — whether we’re up 1-0 to help us maintain the lead or whether we need a goal for him to come on and score like he did — is what’s best for the team. He has embraced it because he’s a true professional. He’s one of the best professionals that I’ve ever worked with, frankly. I’m sure he’d like to play more minutes — just like everyone would — but he has a role on the team that I think is one of the most important out of the whole group.

Locomotive (12-2-6, 42 points), currently 10-points up on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for first place in the Mountain Division, will return home for a match against Sacramento Republic FC (6-7-8, 26 points) on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT and the match will broadcast live on ESPN+.

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