Time to Get Loco: Five Things That Shined on Opening Night
Bright lights and a soccer field converted from a baseball diamond: Southwest University Park was reborn Saturday evening with a new tenant in the El Paso Locomotive FC.
And although the Locomotive FC fell 3-1 in their inaugural game versus OKC Energy FC, the lights couldn't have been brighter and the environment couldn't have been more energetic.
For the game recap by Joe Rodriguez, click here.
In front of a sold out crowd, 8,324 raucous fans to be exact, the Locomotive FC presented itself in a bold manner and were able to deliver an entertaining product on the field that will be long-lasting for the Sun City.
Here are some of the best highlights of the night:
5. Desert Dusk Jerseys, Baby Blue & Navy Blue Galore
Which jerseys El Paso would wear on opening night was one of the hottest topics of the inaugural match. They chose to go with Desert Dusk over West Texas Sky, which captured the look on Saturday night.
And the fans responded too. Southwest University Park was engulfed in a sea of navy blue and baby blue, with a hint of yellow tees flying around. The non-traditional colors for a city like El Paso caught on quickly and all the fans responded.
Merchandise tables and team shops were overwhelmed with an abundance of customers trying to get their Locomotive FC fix. Lines were stretched out the door, but no one cared. They embraced this team and sport as everyone hoped for and made a lasting impression.
4. Obscenities Flooded the Chants
If you heard the crowd on their chants leading up to a kick, it was a stadium divided. On one side, led by EP Locomotive FC fan group 8th Notch, supporters would yell "El Chuco" when leading up to a big kick.
Other chants were not as nice. It became clear as daylight that too many fans in the stands used the opportunities for the lead-up chants to yell obscenities in Spanish. And if you've ever watched a Liga MX game or a soccer match with die-hard Spanish-speaking fans, you may have heard these words before.
No matter how many times it's announced, El Paso fans will get caught up in the obscenities. You could even hear kids yelling these bad words in Spanish, which deserved a chancla right to the back of the head!
3. The Beat of the Drum
For someone that's never been to a professional soccer game, seeing the supporter group, 8th Notch, come out with fans that brought drums to the game made the atmosphere electric. They led forth chants throughout the night, but what capped it all off was the beat of the drum.
The rhythm itself felt almost orchestrated with the players, as they seemingly dribbled the ball to the beat of the drum. Fans danced to the beat themselves all night and chimed in with the 8th Notch supporter group and their chants. If the drums are this loud throughout the season and resonate throughout the stadium, the atmosphere at Locomotive FC games will be insane.
2. OKC Energy Stormed Through
It was indeed shocking when OKC Energy scored within the first minute on the 38th second by Deshorn Brown. In the end, OKC took the 3-1 game at the inaugural game, but El Paso maintained 68.8 percent possession with 506 passes at an 83.2 percent completion rate.
“The guys are invested in this club, they are invested in each other, and they are a great group,” said head coach Mark Lowry.
1. The Club's First Goal
At the 15th minute, forward Derek Gebhard scored the first goal in El Paso Locomotive FC history. The fans roared upon the first-ever goal by the club. Sebastian Contreras set up the play with a pass to Gebhard that made it easy for him to get the goal.
“It felt really amazing especially with the fans and the atmosphere we had here,” said Gebhard “It meant a lot to me scoring for a new club and being the first person to do it.”
Next up, El Paso will travel to take on Real Monarchs SLC next Saturday, March 16th, and will be televised on ESPN+. They will return home on March 23 to take on regional rival Rio Grande Valley FC