EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – All aboard! El Paso Locomotive FC will open the 2020 regular season on Friday night at Orange County, looking to improve on last year’s Wester Conference Finals appearance.
“I believe we have a group this year and a system in place that can really improve on last year,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “Even though last year was a great success, I still see room for improvement.”
Locomotive FC returns the core of their inaugural season’s team and with all the success they had in year one, the expectations are even higher in year two.
“Every year the goal is win a championship and a lot of the same players that were here last year came back,” said forward Omar Salgado. “I think we still have that same goal and we can really push for that championship.”
“We have high expectations ourselves so whatever anyone else is saying doesn’t really matter, but of course you want to win,” said defender Drew Beckie. “Winning the league is the most important part.”
El Paso and Orange County split their two games last season, with each team winning 2-0 at home. On March 30, 2019, Locomotive FC earned their first win in club history against Orange County SC. These two teams finished within four points of one another in the final standings in 2019, with Orange County SC and Locomotive finishing fifth and sixth place respectively, both avoiding the play-in round.
“You don’t put too much emphasis on it being the opener,” said Lowry. “You don’t want to build it up to be something that it’s not, but the emphasis is on three points, just like it is every week. Those three point are important, those three points are critical, but we approach it just like we would any other game. There’s no more pressure, there’s no less pressure.”
In the 2019 playoffs, Orange County fell to eventual champions, Real Monarchs SLC, in a crushing 6-2 defeat. After beating Fresno FC 3-2 and cruising past Sacramento Republic FC 3-0 in front of a raucous El Paso crowd, Locomotive FC also lost to Real Monarchs SLC in the Western Conference Finals 2-1.
Of the five new Locomotive FC players for 2020, three have already had a major offensive impact. Marios Lomis, a clinical striker from the Netherlands, previously played in the Championship with NCFC in the Eastern Conference and has shown promise in the offseason. Distel Zola, a French born midfielder who played his career in France, promises to be another attacking weapon for Lowry. Dylan Mares will be pulling the strings in midfield as a creative and attacking option who scored multiple goals during preseason under a TBA moniker until he was announced this Monday. With the recent re-signing of forward Aaron Gomez and defender Mechack Jerome returning from an achilles tear to secure the backline, Locomotive FC appears poised to hit the ground running in California.
Kickoff on Friday is scheduled for 8 p.m. MT and the game will air on ESPN+. El Paso’s home opener will be Saturday, March 14 against Portland Timber 2.