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Locomotive Sign Local Standout Herrera

By USLChampionship.com Staff, 01/08/19, 3:26PM EST

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Energy FC adds to back line with Williams; Villanova's Zandi joins Steel FC midfield corps


Louis “Chapa” Herrera is the second El Pasoan to join Locomotive FC for its inaugural season, joining Omar Salgado. | Photo courtesy El Paso Locomotive FC

EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Locomotive FC announced on Tuesday it had signed midfielder Louis “Chapa” Herrera, who becomes the second El Paso native to join the club for its inaugural season in the USL Championship, joining the club’s first signing Omar Salgado. The signing is pending league and federation approval.  

Herrera piqued the interest of the Locomotive coaching staff during the 2018 Alianza de Futbol tournament in El Paso last September, where he competed with an all-star team comprised of former professionals and collegiate players.

“We saw him play at the Alianza tournament in September, where I think he ran 5,000 miles and didn’t give the ball away once all weekend,” said Locomotive Head Coach Mark Lowry. “We invited him to tryouts where he performed well and once again showed his quality and potential.”

A few weeks after the invitational tryout, Herrera came to the Locomotive offices with his family and was offered a contract for the inaugural 2019 season.

“In my years of doing this, I can honestly say it was one of my proudest moments sitting with Louis and his family while he signed forms to become a full-time professional soccer player,” said Lowry. “At 22, he has incredible room for growth and the opportunity to change the lives of him and his family. This is what dreams are made of.

“I am honored to be part of this journey with Louis and everyone else in El Paso who aspires to be something special.”

WILLIAMS LINKS UP WITH OKC: Trinidad & Tobago international Mekeil Williams was introduced as the newest signing for OKC Energy FC on Tuesday, with the former Colorado Rapids defender reuniting with Head Coach Steve Cooke in Oklahoma City.

Williams joins Energy FC after spending the 2018 USL Championship season with the Richmond Kickers, where he made 27 appearances, 111 clearances and had a 66.7 percent tackle success rate. The 28-year-old had previously made 38 appearances over two seasons for the Rapids in Major League Soccer.

“He’s a player who is very versatile,” said Cooke. “He can play center back; he can play right back, he plays left back. I think having players of that experience and that quality who can also play in a couple of different positions really helps in USL in terms of building your roster.”

In addition to playing in the top flight in the United States, Williams has featured for the Soca Warriors 20 times, scoring one goal for his home country and helping his country advance to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup. Williams also earned caps against the United States men’s national team in World Cup qualifiers from 2015-18.

“He’s another player who is very hard-working,” said Cooke. “Sometimes, that is not always seen because he’s got a fairly laid-back personality, but his work ethic is terrific, and I think he’s somebody who will certainly add to the group. Not only as a quality player but I think he’s going to be a fun guy to be around for everybody.”

FORMER WILDCAT ZANDI JOINS STEEL FC: Bethlehem Steel FC announced the club had signed midfielder Zach Zandi for the 2019 USL Championship season. A 22-year-old midfielder from West Chester, Pa., Zandi joins Steel FC after a successful collegiate-career. The signing is pending league and federation approval.

“We are excited to welcome Zach to our club and are very pleased to have signed another Union Academy alumnus to a professional contract,” said Union Sporting Director Ernst Tanner. “He is an excellent player who had a great career at Villanova University, and we’ve followed his progress closely during his time there. We look forward to getting him started with Bethlehem and fostering an opportunity for him to continue his development in a professional environment.”

Zandi joins Steel FC from Villanova University, where in four seasons he made 63 appearances (60 starts), scored 14 goals and provided 10 assists, leading the team with seven goals scored in 2018. He earned numerous honors during his time with Villanova, being named to the 2018 All-Big East Second Team, 2016 Big East All-Academic Team and Big East Honor Roll, 2015 Big East All-Freshman Team and Philadelphia Soccer Six All-Rookie Unit and was named Philadelphia Soccer Six’s 2017 Player of the Year. Zandi is also a product of the Union Academy.

“Zach is a well-rounded midfielder who came through our academy. We have kept a close eye on him through his time at Villanova and with Reading United, where he was a standout for us and trained with the Steel regularly,” said Steel FC Head Coach Brendan Burke. “He brings an excellent work ethic, demeanor and understanding that we hope will allow him to adjust to the professional level quickly.”

In addition to his collegiate career, Zandi spent three seasons in USL League Two with Reading United AC, where he made 24 appearances, scored two goals and tallied five assists. He also made three appearances (two starts) for Reading in the 2017 and 2018 versions of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

“Zach was a vital part of Reading's success over the last three seasons, has exceptional ability on the ball, is a very intelligent player in between the lines and consistently caused opponents problems with his decisions,” noted Steel FC Assistant Coach Stephen Hogan. “He definitely has the work rate off the ball that we need and we are very excited to see him develop.” 

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