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Locomotive FC adds USYNT’s Brandan Craig on loan from Philadelphia Union

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 02/15/24, 12:00PM EST


19-year-old center started every game for United States at 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina

New El Paso Locomotive FC acquisition Brandan Craig made 14 appearances for the United States U-20 Men's National Team in its past cycle, including starting all five games at the 2023 FIFA Men's U-20 World Cup.

EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Locomotive FC announced on Thursday the club had acquired top young defender Brandan Craig on loan from the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer for the 2024 USL Championship season. The transaction is pending league and federal approval.

Craig joins Locomotive FC having featured prominently for the United States U-20 Men’s National Team over the past two years. This past year, he appeared in every minute of the team’s five-match run to the Quarterfinals at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina where he shared the pitch alongside former El Paso superstar Diego Luna. Craig was also a member of the team that won the 2022 Concacaf Men’s U-20 Championship in Honduras, starting in all five of his appearances.

"Brandan has a lot of experience with the U.S. U20 and U23 National Teams and it’s a pleasure to bring him from a top club like the Philadelphia Union,” said Locomotive FC Head Coach and Technical Director Brian Clarhaut. “He is a promising, ball-playing center back who has real talent to orchestrate attacks from deep and his tremendous passing range will allow us to quickly isolate certain players higher up the field. We look forward to welcoming Brandan to El Paso to aid him in his professional development and to help us become successful.”

Before his brief five-month loan stint with Austin FC, Craig competed for the Philadelphia Union II between 2020-23. Since making his professional debut at 16 with Union II in the USL Championship, Craig went on to start 35 of his 38 appearances across the Championship and MLS NEXT Pro, recording three (3) goals and four (4) assists.

A Philadelphia native and product of the Philadelphia Union Academy, Craig signed a Homegrown contract with the Union on January 1, 2021, and made his MLS debut with the Union on July 8, 2022, coming in as a substitute in a 7-0 victory over D.C. United.

“I’m excited to join El Paso Locomotive FC for the upcoming season and I can’t wait to play and win games in front of the fans,” Craig said. “I cannot wait to get started!”


Brandan Craig becomes the latest exciting young talent to join a USL Championship club on loan this offseason, following goalkeeper Damian Las (Louisville City FC) and midfielder Miguel Perez (Birmingham Legion FC) as their MLS clubs seek a higher level of competition for their highly regarded prospects.

Craig’s pedigree coming out of the Philadelphia Union’s Academy is high end, and he excelled in his six appearances for the Union II in 2023, winning 71.4 percent of tackles, 65.9 percent of duels and 66.7 percent of aerial duels. Another facet of his game to watch in El Paso, however, will be his ability in dead-ball situations. While a center back, Craig served as one of the United States U-20s primary set piece takers, and he can offer a threat to shoot from up to 30 yards if the right circumstance presents itself.

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