This morning, the local sports world was dealt a blow when El Paso Locomotive FC announced that head coach and technical director Mark Lowry was leaving the club. An even bigger surprise came moments later when Jeff Rueter, a soccer columnist for The Athletic tweeted that Lowry would be headed to Indy Eleven.

Locomotive FC fans knew that it was just a matter of time before Lowry would leave the club, since his success was sure to attract an MLS club. However, nobody expected him to make a parallel move and stay in USL Championship. Like El Paso, Indy Eleven advanced to the Conference Finals in 2020. Unlike Locomotive FC, they failed to make the playoffs this season and in June, they parted ways with head coach Martin Rennie after four seasons.

As El Paso soccer fans continue to wonder why Indy Eleven, there are some important things to understand. Professional soccer does not operate like other traditional college and pro sports. Instead of successful seasons and playoff appearances leading to long term contracts and increased job security, coaches do not seem to get nearly as comfortable in the soccer world. Coaching vacancies are common in professional soccer, no matter how successful a club is from year to year.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre
Ivan Pierre Aguirre

It is impossible to know why Coach Lowry decided that the time is right for him to move on to the next chapter of his coaching career. Maybe he felt like he peaked during his three seasons in El Paso. Or he did not get nearly as much exposure or credit around the soccer world for the job he did with Locomotive FC. If his aspirations are to coach in Major League Soccer, maybe an opportunity in Indianapolis which competes in the Eastern Conference of USL Championship will attract more MLS scouts than in El Paso. Regardless of his reason to leave the club, Mark Lowry made a huge impact in his three seasons with Locomotive FC. He also turned this former expansion team into one of the more attractive coaching openings in professional soccer.

It will be interesting to see who becomes the next head coach and technical director of Locomotive FC. If the club looks from within, Richie Ryan is the logical choice. The 36-year old has played for Lowry in Jacksonville before he joined him in El Paso. He knows the system well and he also is responsible for the pipeline to the Barcelona Academy in Casa Grande, Arizona that produced rookie sensation Diego Luna. Ryan is reportedly working on his professional coaching license and he would make a lot of sense if Locomotive FC management wants to keep the same style of play in place for next season.

Matt Williams is the top assistant coach on the roster, and he also worked with Lowry at Orlando City. The club could also look outside of the organization and make a splash with a high-profile name like Eric Wynalda, who coached Las Vegas until the middle of last season. There will also be plenty
of resumes from accomplished college and professional soccer coaches who will be interested in the job. Phil Baki, who joined us regularly on SportsTalk and is the founder of the Seriously Loco Podcast, tweeted out his wish list earlier today:

Regardless of who is named the next head coach of the club by general manager Andrew Forrest and MountainStar Sports Group upper management, it will be tough to equal or surpass the level of success that Mark Lowry delivered to Locomotive FC.

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