EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC will open their 2021 USL Championship season at home on Saturday, May 8 against regional rival New Mexico United at Southwest University Park. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. MT and the match will air on ESPN+.
USL Championship made the announcement on Tuesday, but will announce full 32-game schedule at a later date.
“To open at home is big for us and I’m sure there will be some fans in the building — as long as things stay okay and safe — we’ll get a good atmosphere with the number that we have in there,” said Locomotive FC head coach Mark Lowry. “It’ll be a good game and we’ll be ready.”
In each of their first two seasons in the league, El Paso has made back-to-back Western Conference Final appearances. United owns a 1-2-3 regular season record against Locomotive, however, El Paso defeated New Mexico in a penalty shootout in last year’s Western Conference Semifinals to advance to their second straight final.
“With everything happening last year with COVID-19, we didn’t get very many games with fans,” said Locomotive FC newcomer Luis Solignac. “For me, it’s going to be amazing. Everyone talks amazing about our fans and I’m looking forward to playing in front of them.”
With the season still a little over a month away, El Paso is playing a total of eight preseason matches to prepare for the year. Locomotive beat United 2-1 in their preseason opener last weekend and will play two matches against FC Juárez on Wednesday and again on Saturday.
While the club is focused on preparing for the start of the season, Lowry and his lads believe building on preseason results is part of their development as a team.
“[Winning] is part of the process,” said Lowry. “The development during preseason is fitness, it’s tactical understanding, it’s implementing our principles into our guys and the team — but it’s also learning how to win.”
“Winning games provides confidence and a good culture inside the locker room with that mood,” said Solignac. “However, the function of the team and finding that chemistry and finding that connection is the most important.”
Kickoff against the Bravos is scheduled for 11 a.m. MT on Wednesday at Estadio Olímpico Benito Juárez. KTSM will have full coverage of the match at 6 and 10 p.m.