Loco for Locomotive: El Paso's USL Franchise Has a Name and Crest
El Paso’s soccer fans were thrilled when MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG) announced it was bringing an United Soccer League franchise to the Borderland in February of this year. The announcement was accompanied with the expectation that the team would soon have an identity. A crest and a team name give the supporters something to rally around and without it, well it’s tough for supporters to do supporter things. Writing songs for a team with no name (aside from something overtly obvious to the tune of “Horse with No Name” by America) is decidedly difficult. Teams are tough support if they don’t have a name. In the seven months that followed the initial announcement, there were a lot of conversations, submission contests, rumors, and memes with no actual resolution to the situation. Today, El Pasoans got their wish.
El Paso Locomotive FC
If there is any doubt about the name itself, let me just address the fact that trains have played an incredibly important role in El Paso’s development as a city. This team is acknowledging that past while helping bring El Paso into a new era in El Paso’s continued advancement. Alan Ledford, the President of MSSG (who has also appeared on our humble program) spoke during the announcement ceremony along those lines. “Our mission has been to improve quality of life in the Borderplex through sports and entertainment. El Paso is experiencing an economic and quality of life renaissance and we’re excited to start the next important part of that with a professional soccer team”
The name Locomotive, especially in the singular, evokes images of teams in Eastern Europe, generally former Soviet countries, who bear the name Lokomotiv. Some people will no doubt see this as another “Faux-Euro” team name in the same vein as Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City. The difference here is that the link is not manufactured or nonsensical. The Lokomotiv Moscow team bore that name because the players were rail workers. The El Paso team will not be employing rail workers, but it will be representing a city of working class people who are both hard working and extremely proud of the city they’re from. This club’s identity does a good job of capturing both the heart of the city and the people who make it up in a league that feels increasingly impersonal.
I won’t sit here and break down all the elements in the crest, there are already graphics doing the same. Let’s make this simple. The crest is great. The reaction when it was unveiled was fantastic in the room and it just gets better the more I see it. The crest feels right. It is clean without being boring, and unique without being absurd. The two elements I will discuss are the Franklin Mountains outline and the Star. This is what makes it so uniquely El Paso. Driving on I-10 anywhere east of downtown at night, you’ll see that star. I drive over the Franklin Mountains to and from work and it consistently reminds me of the inherent beauty of the city, when you can see it from above. These being in the crest make it really strike home for me. Oh, and did you know the front of a locomotive was called a cattle catcher? I didn’t. Anyway, the balance and the representation of the city is what MSSG has consistently done with their decision-making and this crest is no exception.
The organization has done a lot of things right so far. Hiring Mark Lowry, formerly of Jacksonville Armada, as manager seems like a great fit. He understands the game, is very ambitious, and has a clear vision of what he wants out of his squad. Now that the club has an identity, the supporters will be shifting their focus from the suits to Mark. They will be looking for more player signings and they’ll want to see how the team is going to play. He gave some hints about what he is going to be pursuing in his playing staff as they expand out from the current three. “We’re coming out the gates flying. We have a very clear objective. To be a playoff team and to eventually bring a championship back to El Paso…It’s important to find players of talent, however we have to find the right people…A great team always has a great team culture.” The pressure is off the club for delivering a dynamite brand but the pressure is now on to build that winning squad. Early indicators are very positive that this club is going to get it right and the supporters will be fully able to go “Loco.”