Get To Know Loco
It tends to be pretty tough to keep up with player and staff movements in lower division US Soccer, with contracts being pretty fluid and players often not staying put in one spot for long. That’s why SL went ahead and put together a primer so you can get to know the folks at the club you love. We’ll tell you all you need to know so you don’t have to go digging.
Manager- Mark Lowry
Born in Solihull, England (a decent-sized town near Birmingham in the West Midlands) Mark has made his…impact on the lower divisions of US Soccer as a coach and manager. He initially broke through with Orlando City SC’s academy before moving to Jacksonville Armada of the then-NASL. He was on Tony Meola’s staff initially before being handed the reigns on an interim basis after Tony’s departure. He earned the permanent job a short two months later and with it the respect of loads of Armada faithful. He was announced as EP Locomotive’s Manager and Technical Director on July 25, 2018 and this represents a chance to build a team purely the way he sees fit. He is an ambitious manager who likes playing attacking football, and has pledged to both win and entertain since day one. Now we’ll meet the players who he’s seen as those that will help him achieve those goals.
Bryam Rebellón- Right Back
Bryam Rebellón is a South American right back through and through. He developed in his home nation of Colombia before moving to Argentina and back. He made his move to the States in 2015 when the LA Galaxy brought him into their reserve team. From there, he spent time at Lowry’s Jacksonville Armada in the NASL before moving to Swope Park Rangers of the USL. All told, he has about 75 appearances at an American D2 level and reached the Western Conference Semifinals with SPR last year so success at this level is nothing new to him. The question now is can he help El Paso get even further this year?
Daniel Navarro- Center Back/Defensive Midfielder
Daniel Navarro was born in Hyannis, Massachusetts but the 27 year old’s footballing education primarily happened in Brazil. He was traveling from club to club in Brazil’s lower tiers before making the move back to the United States in 2015 to play for Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL. The club’s volatile situtation lead to his departure before he resurfaced playing for Miami United of the amateur NPSL. During his time there, the club made a significant run in the US Open Cup, reaching the 4th Round before being defeated by MLS side Orlando City. Interestingly there’s history with the manager, as Navarro and Miami knocked out Mark Lowry’s Jacksonville Armada in the 3rd Round of that tournament. Mark taking an old page out of the book, if you can’t beat them, sign them. Listed as a defender, he can play in midfield as well and it will be interesting to see how his new boss employs him.
Chiro N’Toko- Center Back
Born in Zaire, Chiro N’Toko is a Belgian defender who at 30 is one of the more experienced players on the Locomotive roster. He’s spent time at clubs in Belgium, the Netherlands, England, and most recently Slovakia at FK Senica. The big question mark here is that it seems his last serious playing time was the 16/17 season with NAC Breda in the Dutch 2nd Division. Injuries plagued his last season at Breda before moving to Senica where Transfermarkt.co had no stats for him, which makes me think he did not make an appearance for them. This is not all bad as it seems like this is a shot at redemption for him. I’m ok with a comeback.
Joshua Castellanos- Central Midfielder
Josh Castellanos is a Jacksonville native and a product of Jacksonville Armada’s academy system (formerly known as Jacksonville United). The 23 year old is a project that Mark Lowry clearly believes in as he’s brought him along on the new adventure in El Paso. The midfielder had a very productive season in the NPSL last season for the Armada, registering 4 goals and an assist in 12 appearances and helped lead the Armada to a NPSL Sunshine Conference Final appearance before they were beaten by fellow former NASL-ers Miami FC. Soon we’ll see if Josh’s game translates to the West Texas desert.
Louis “Chapa” Herrera- Central Midfield
One of the feel-good stories of the year already, 22 year old Chapa Herrera made his way into the Locomotive squad via the invitational tryouts. The El Pasoan originally caught Lowry’s eye at the Alianza de Futbol Tournament, a prestigious tournament for primarily Latin players trying to make their breakthrough from the amateur to professional ranks. Chapa was working construction most recently, but the only building we’ll be looking for from him now is build-up play.
Kevin Ramirez- Central Midfield
Kevin joins El Paso on loan from Chivas Guadalajara having come up through their youth ranks. The young midfielder actually had a trial at Manchester City when he was 15 years old but an issue with the medical kept him from signing a contract. Since then he has had trouble breaking into Chivas’ first team, spending last year on loan at Zacatepec in the Ascenso MX. As a youngster with something to prove, he could definitely add intensity and passion to this midfield for the Locomotive.
Nick Ross- Central Midfield
The first player on the Locomotive roster, Nick is a Scot who began his career at Inverness, his hometown club. He moved to Dundee FC in 2015 before taking an excursion to Romania with Sepsi Sf. Gheorghe. He returned to Scotland to play with Brora Rangers FC of the Highland League before joining up with Locomotive, and I think he’ll enjoy that a bit more than playing against Inverurie Loco Works ;) He’s a creative midfielder who likes to get involved with the attack as much as the situation allows and we could see him making those late runs to offer the opposition additional defensive dilemmas.
Yuma- Central Midfield
Another experienced head in the team, Yuma spent the first half of his career in his native Spain, moving between a few clubs before he landed in the NASL at Rayo OKC as part of that…experiment. He then went to Puerto Rico FC of the NASL before joining, you guessed it, Mark Lowry’s Jacksonville Armada squad. His experience at this level will no doubt be invaluable in bringing the rest of the squad up to speed quickly and he will keep that midfield ticking along in possession.
Calvin Rezende- Right Wing
If you’re at Southwest University Park this year and see Calvin on the field and then look next to you and think you’re seeing double, don’t worry, Calvin isn’t a shapeshifter, he just has a twin brother, Connor. On the field though, Calvin will try to use trickery and pace up and down the wing just as he has in the 2nd division for year. Miami FC of the NASL was his first club at this level, before moving to Penn FC of the USL. His development at this level is due to keep on track and we’ll see what the 25 year old adds to the squad.
Sebastian Contreras- Attacking Midfielder
The 28 year old Argentinian attacker has spent time moving between clubs in Argentina and Venezuela for most of his career, with last season being spent at UAI Urquiza of the Primera B Metropolitana in the 3rd Tier of Argentine Football. By the statistics I could scrounge up, it looked like he made 17 appearances with no goals in his last season with them. Playing in an attacking role, hopefully he finds that goalscoring touch again soon.
Edson Partida- Attacking Midfielder
Edson joins Locomotive on loan from Toluca of Liga MX. Due to Mexico’s squad registration rules including every player at the club, he wears #302 for Toluca. This does mean that stats are hard to come by but he has made his professional debut already, facing Lobos BUAP in the Copa MX. Aside from that, this is a raw talent that the manager has seen something in and we’ll be looking forward to seeing Edson show what he can do in a first team setting.
Derek Gebhard- Center Forward
Derek is a Maine native who will quickly realize that he’s a long way from home once he sees the desert climes of El Paso. Another former Lowry man, he made 47 appearances for the Armada in the NASL and played every match of the season in the NPSL, scoring twice in 11 matches. Still just 23 years old, he could be primed to hit his stride in this environment and could become Locomotive’s Fennec Fox in the Box.
Omar Salgado- Center Forward
Of course I’ve left Omar to last! I wasn’t going to drop him in at the top and have you all click off. But seriously, this is a man who needs no introduction in El Paso. He was brought in as the marquee signing and as an El Paso native he will be seen as the man that should be the talisman of this squad. The team is being built around him and he showed in Las Vegas on loan this season that he can be an impact player, scoring 5 goals and assisting 3 in 19 appearances for the Lights this season. Now time will tell if he can light up Southwest University Park and further endear himself to his hometown.