EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Down nine key contributors from the roster last Saturday, El Paso Locomotive FC still managed to pick up a 1-1 draw with Hartford Athletic at Southwest University Park.

Heading into this week’s road showdown with Phoenix Rising FC, El Paso will still be without as many as seven important players from the start of the season. Three players are on international duty playing for their countries; three have either long or short-term injuries; and one, Diego Luna, is now in MLS.

Therefore, that makes the return of striker Lucho Solignac to the lineup this weekend all the more important. Solignac missed the Hartford match while serving a one-game suspension for a red card he obtained during Locomotive’s 1-0 win over Las Vegas on May 27.

Without their leading goal scorer, El Paso struggled to finish some chances in the final third that Solignac has typically hammered home throughout the season. His return to play in the Valley of the Sun could help Los Locos to a win on Saturday.

“He’s a cog in a big wheel for us and he’s been in good form scoring and getting assists,” said head coach John Hutchinson. “His work rate away from the ball has been fantastic and I think that’s the big picture for Lucho that’s changed is the work he does when we’re not in possession when we’re pressing. It’s changed his fortunes in front of goal. He’s working really hard and deserves the opportunities he gets.”

Lucho likely won’t be the only Loco to return on Saturday; defender Andrew Fox missed the Hartford game, but was back at practice on Tuesday.

El Paso and Phoenix will square off on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the Valley of the Sun. The match will air on ESPN+.