EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – On Dia de los Muertos, it was Noche de Locos at Southwest University Park.
In the first home playoff match in club history, El Paso Locomotive FC beat Sacramento Republic FC 3-0 in the USL Championship’s Western Conference Semifinals to advance to the Western Conference Final, where El Paso will face Real Monarchs with a trip to the USL Final on the line.
“On the field, we got to enjoy that a little bit longer, kind of dwell in that moment and embrace the moment of the fans, the city, just the club itself, everyone enjoying the moment knowing that we’re in a final now,” head coach Mark Lowry said.
El Paso and Sacramento were scoreless for much of the first half, until James Kiffe rifled in a perfect free kick, finding the head of Josue Aaron Gomez for the match’s first goal in the 40th minute. Locomotive led 1-0 at halftime.
The second half was filled with some tense moments and included some incredible saves by El Paso goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, who was able to keep Sacramento off the scoreboard with multiple big saves.
“That was incredible. The whole stadium was packed. That was a cool experience,” Ketterer said.
It remained 1-0 until the 83rd minute, when Sebastian Contreras put home a penalty kick to double the margin. Locomotive FC assured themselves a trip to the Western Conference Final in the 88th minute, when Sebastian Velasquez scored his fifth goal for the club to put the match away.
“It’s hard to describe. It doesn’t matter if it’s the USL, we’re just so passionate about football,” said midfielder Sebastian Velasquez.
El Paso will now travel to Salt Lake City to face Real Monarchs with a chance to advance to the USL Championship Final in their inaugural season as a club. Locomotive FC and Real Monarchs played twice in the regular season, playing to a pair of scoreless draws.
Locomotive FC and Real Monarchs will play Saturday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m. for the Western Conference Championship. Indy Eleven and Louisville City FC will play for the Eastern Conference Championship at the same time. The winners of those matches will play for the overall league title in two weeks.