EL PASO, Texas – With Monterey Bay FC on the horizon, the El Paso Locomotive FC locker room is focused on one thing: Three Points.
The 2022 USL Championship certainly wasn’t a dream start for the Sun City club. Four games in the regular season without a point and an early exit from the Lamar Hunt Open Cup left an air of frustration around El Paso. While head coach John Hutchinson and his men are hurt and bitterly disappointed, morale is still high and the whole team is focused on the few things they can control.
“We know we haven’t been in good shape. It’s frustrating,” said midfielder Chapa Herrera. “But we will have another chance tomorrow against a new team – against Monterey Bay. If we get those three points, it’s an opportunity for us to change the season and start from there.
That’s the feeling of the entire Locomotive locker room as they head into Game 5 of a 34-game USL Championship season. A win is all it will take to get the train moving on the winning track and put El Paso Locomotive back to where fans nationwide expect the team to be.
The team certainly sees and feels the frustrations of the fans, but instead of letting the voices of the locomotive enthusiasts get them down, they’re using it as fuel to keep the engine running. For the Locomotive coaching staff and the men in the locker room, the criticism from the Loco faithful squad is proof that El Paso cares deeply about this team and the players. The fans want a win and three points on the table as bad as the team itself. Truly, El Paso is together and united even in the club’s darkest hours.
“El Paso is used to winning,” said midfielder Emmanuel Sonupe. “Everyone who came here wants to continue. It hasn’t been a good start but it’s still very early and there are still so many points to play for. Team morale is actually in a good place where most would think it probably isn’t. We have quality in the team and we just have to start showing it.
With just days to separate the Open Cup loss and USL Championship regular season game against Monterey Bay, El Paso Locomotive has been against drilling in key defensive areas it knows needs to improve. The long ball has continually proven dangerous for El Paso and coach Hutchinson expects the new visitors to aim to exploit that.
After taking a day off following the trip from California to Texas, El Paso hit the practice courts again, again focusing on transitioning back and forth and protecting their own net from longballs that took been dismantled so far this season. While it’s uncertain of course when El Paso’s woes will start to turn around, the club is full throttle in its efforts to right the wrongs as soon as possible.
“Most people who have watched our football this year can see what it’s all about,” coach John Hutchinson said. “I will fight every day for the players, the fans, the club and I will be there. This is the Aussie way. The Aussie way is to try. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my life at home – ‘try’. We’ll keep trying and we’ll keep fighting. We’ll go in with a game plan that the players understand.”
There is an air of confidence in the locomotive locker room as the team looks out towards Monterey Bay. The expansion club find themselves in a somewhat similar position to that of the El Paso Locomotive, having played four games, lost three and won only one against Oakland Roots SC. The Crisp & Kelp side also made an early exit from Open Cup play after conceding a goal in second-half stoppage time at Bay City FC on Wednesday. Both teams find themselves in the bottom of the Western Conference table for the first few weeks and El Paso sees this game as an opportunity to get back on track with what is considered a must-have three-pointer.
Ultimately, no matter who comes before El Paso Locomotive, the goal is to secure a win and three points for the fans and the club. The goal is to get a win and get the club back on track to get back to the top of the Western Conference.