EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso could soon be home to two USL Championship teams, albeit there is still a lot up in the air for El Paso Locomotive FC’s biggest rival: New Mexico United.
Locomotive FC and United played Wednesday night to a 2-2 draw. After the match, United made their way back to Albuquerque where they are currently displaced after crossing the Texas-New Mexico border.
Last week, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced an updated travel order that prohibits the team from practicing at their team facility, even playing a home match at Isotopes Park until completing a 14-day quarantine. This order applies to anyone entering the state of New Mexico, but it makes it impossible to house a professional sports team like United, who has already been forced to postpone a home match against Real Monarchs SLC on Wednesday, July 29.
United’s next match will, again, come in El Paso against Locomotive FC on Friday, July 24. However, since the team is unable to practice in New Mexico, there is talk around the league they will practice in El Paso in the days leading up to the match. That move could even take on a more permanent position in 2020 without an exemption from the Governor.
Locomotive FC general manager Andrew Forrest says they have not had specific conversations with New Mexico United officials, but they are open to housing their rival.
“It would be something we are open to if that’s something they truly needed. We can certainly look at that,” said Forrest. “We have talked about that possibility, but nothing concrete. It’s just hypothetical or theororetical — what if? We would do the best we can without sacrificing our needs, but if we can help them, we’d be open to that.”
Forrest says they have made it known to USL officials throughout the pandemic they would be willing to house teams who play in cold weather climates if the season were to run deep into the winter. USL Championship opted for a shorter regular season with playoffs beginning in mid-October.
“We told the USL that we want to be good players and good actors in the USL ecosystem,” said Forrest. “Even if it’s for New Mexico United — we want to beat them on the field, but we’re cordial and friendly with everyone off the field. If that’s what it takes to keep them on the field and in the league with options, we would absolutely offer any help that would be realistic.”
For now, El Paso is home to Locomotive FC, but ‘Group C’ is dependent on all four of its teams competing.