EL PASO – This Texas city will soon have another professional sports team, the El Paso Coyotes. This time the opportunity will be for an arena soccer team from the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL), an international league for the United States and Mexico.
Founded in 2008, the MASL has 21 teams. The El Paso Coyotes inaugural season officially starts on Saturday October 29th when they travel to Allen, Texas to face the Dallas Sidekicks. Their first home game is November 9, when the Dallas Sidekicks travel to the El Paso.
The Coyotes will play in the 5,250-seat El Paso County Coliseum, 4100 East Paisano, in the South Central area. The venue doesn’t have to undergo major remodeling to suit the needs of the soccer team, just install synthetic turf.
According to the official website, the MASL is the highest level of professional arena soccer. Traditionally in soccer two teams with 10 players confront each other. But in arena soccer the game will usually be a five-on-five soccer duel in a field that is about 200 feet long and 85 feet wide. In arena soccer the only traditional position is the goalkeeper. The other four players run around the field trying to score a goal.
The new soccer team is managed by Héctor Hugo Eugui, 69, as the franchise’s inaugural head coach. Eugui had previously coached other professional soccer teams such as the Juárez Indio’s and Juárez Cobras. Eugui did not respond to Boarderzine’s several attempts to interview him for this story.
Eugui has more than 45 years of experience as both a soccer player and coach in the borderland. The Coyotes team will have 20 regular season games – 10 will be home games at the El Paso County Coliseum and the remaining 10 will be away games. The MASL website has all the information regarding dates, times, cities, and venues. The season will run from November until the end of February.
One hope for the new team is that it might bring in money to the city by attracting not just El Pasoans but also residents of Las Cruces, Juárez and northern Mexico. Juárez has a 15 month-old soccer team called Fútbol Club Juárez, which is part of the Ascenso MX soccer league. Juárez’s soccer season does not conflict with that of the Coyotes, so soccer fans could follow both teams.
In a May 2016 article in the El Paso Times, Kevin Milliken, the MASL league’s founder and vice president of business development said his league believes that El Paso is an ideal location because there are eight teams already in the league within a 12-hour drive of the border city. He also noted that the old El Paso Patriots did well, which is a good sign for the new team.
The nine teams will travel to home games in each others’ cities, attracting both local and more distant fans.
“I’m so excited that we will be getting some sort of major league soccer in the Borderland because it not only brings more money to the city, which can never hurt, but also my sons will finally want to go to a sporting event,” said Ann Hernandez, whose 10-year-old son plays for the under-12 Northeast Soccer League in El Paso said. She added that her sons don’t care much for American football or any other sport, but love soccer.
El Paso locals Aaliyah and Terrell McCarter, whose daughter plays for the youth team Wicked in the El Paso Classic Soccer League, are delighted by the arrival of the El Paso Coyotes.
“Its amazing that we will get a major soccer team in El Paso because there has been talk about El Paso getting a major league soccer team for a few years,” said Aaliyah Mccarter.
Terrell McCarter said it was a shame there wasn’t a similar women’s league.
“Its not fair that men get all these new sports teams and women don’t have any professional soccer teams in the surrounding areas.”
Martha Flores, who works as a housekeeper in El Paso and commutes several times a week from Juárez, said she doesn’t know yet if she would come see soccer being played in El Paso when she already attends regular soccer games in Juárez.
“I would only come from time to time, especially if they give away souvenirs, or if they would do really well,” she said.
Raúl Chávez who also lives in Juárez said he wishes there was an arena soccer team on his side of the border.
“I am jealous that El Paso will have another sports team, because here in Juárez we only have a fútbol team, I would go to most of their home games because fútbol is something I love no matter what type of game it is.”