Life is good in Texas for USL Championship side El Paso Locomotive FC. The Locomotive have enjoyed plenty of success in recent weeks following a slow start to the season. After losing their first three matches while conceding six goals and scoring just two, things have turned around. Locomotive have since gone on a seven-match unbeaten run, which includes five straight victories. They have found their goal-scoring form, netting 14 goals during this streak. Sitting second in both the Western Conference and the USL Championship overall, Locomotive hopes to build on this success and continue moving up the standings.
— El Paso Locomotive FC (@eplocomotivefc) May 16, 2023
Moving Up the USL Standings
After being founded in 2018, El Paso Locomotive found plenty of immediate success. The Texas-based team managed playoff appearances in each of their first three seasons (2019, 2o20, 2021). They were able to reach the conference final in both of their first two seasons.
The 2022 season was more up and down for the Locomotive. Finishing with just 46 points, they finished eighth in the Western Conference and missed the playoffs. Things were appearing to get worse at the start of the 2023 season. The Locomotive lost their opening match 1-0 to Sacramento Republic FC. This was followed up by two more losses to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Detroit City FC.
The Locomotive found themselves in a tough spot. However, where many teams might collapse given the adversity, the Locomotive players decided to dig in their heels and fight. In their next match, the Locomotive battered last year’s Eastern Conference Champions, Louisville City FC on the road, 3-0.
The Texas side had found their scoring boots and blood was now in the water. Following a 2-2 draw with FC Tulsa in their next match, the Locomotive have rattled off five straight wins; scoring nine goals and conceding just three.
Chris Garcia was the hero in their most recent match on Saturday, May 13th. The El Paso native scored an 89-minute winner with what was his first goal for the club. Garcia was beyond elated and had this to say following the match “It felt great to score in front of my people in El Paso. I’m happy with the team and I thank them for making this possible.
Head Coach and Technical Director, Brian Clarhaut, is delighted with his side’s recent form as they continue moving up the table but understands that there is still work to be done: “We’re getting used to winning here. We still need to improve, but we’re doing something right and getting three points. I enjoy it and I’m going to celebrate it.”
Everybody Pitching In
A big part of the team’s recent success is the number of different players contributing goals and assists. The team have seven different goal scorers on the season, including four multiple-goal scorers. Striker Luis “Lucho” Solignac leads the team with five goals; all coming during Locomotive’s seven-game unbeaten run. The Argentinian have been Locomotive’s leading scorer for the past two seasons. Other multiple goal scorers are midfielders Petar Petrovic (three) and Denys Kostyshyn (two) and forward Ricardo Zacarias (two).
In addition to having multiple different goal scorers, the Locomotive also have ten different assist providers on the season. Clarhaut has to be thrilled with the multitude of avenues his side have found to set up and finish scoring opportunities. Solignac is certainly in fine form, however, it is a massive advantage to have a plethora of goal-creators and scorers in the event that Solignac finds himself in a poor run of form.
The Locomotive return to action on Saturday, May 20th as they take on Birmingham City FC. Birmingham City have found early success as well this season as they sit third in the USL Championship Eastern Conference. Locomotive hopes to extend their unbeaten run and continue moving up the standings as they travel to Alabama this weekend.
Photo Credit: GABY VELASQUEZ/ EL PASO TIMES / USA TODAY NETWORK, of Ricardo Zacarias’ Headshot, on October 13, 2021.