EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — El Paso Locomotive FC might not like their rivals up north, but they respect what they have been able to accomplish this season under tough circumstances.
New Mexico United has played 13 matches this season — all on the road. COVID-19 restrictions issued by the New Mexico Governor’s Office has made it impossible to play at their home stadium in Albuquerque.
Despite not playing a single home game this season, United has clinched a playoff berth for the second consecutive year and are still battling for the top spot in Group C. New Mexico is four points behind El Paso with three matches to play.
“Whether they’re a rival or not, you have to look at their success and how they’re doing it. I don’t think people are giving them enough credit for what they’re doing,” said Locomotive FC defender Drew Beckie. “For them to have to go on the road every week and be away from their families and risk getting sick in different ways than maybe other teams are — it’s very impressive.”
Locomotive FC will host United on Saturday at Southwest University Park for the fourth time this season. An El Paso win would clinch the top spot in the group with two to play, but they know New Mexico will come out with motivation to keep the top spot up for grabs.
“They’ve got, I think, a lot of mental toughness in their group,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “I think that’s the key thing when you have adversity and you have to be on the road that long, you have to have a lot of mental toughness. They’ve definitely shown that.”
There might be respect, but Locomotive FC fully intends on capturing three points and the group on Saturday night.
“We aren’t going to take any mercy on them,” said Beckie. “It is what it is and they understand that. We are going to give them everything we have and I hope they do the same for us.”
Kickoff on Saturday is at 7:30 p.m. The match will air on ESPN+.