EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – El Paso Locomotive FC netted a pair of second half goals and defeated Colorado Springs Switchbacks 2-1 on Wednesday night at Southwest University Park.
The victory extended Los Locos’ unbeaten streak to seven matches and moved them into sole possession of first place in Group C, one point ahead of New Mexico United with four matches left for both clubs.
Additionally, El Paso’s win, coupled with a 2-1 Portland Timbers 2 victory over Real Monarchs SLC, officially punched Locomotive FC’s ticket to the playoffs for the second year in a row. El Paso and New Mexico will be the two teams from Group C in the postseason.
With the playoffs in hand, Los Locos can focus on the next goal: winning the group.
“Every game is so important, even inf we clinch a playoff spot, because you want that top spot,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “You want to host a quarterfinal, it gives you a better chance to advance. Everyone is fighting for that position. It feels great to be there, but we have to stay there.”
The match was scoreless at halftime, but didn’t stay that way for very long. In the 53rd minute off of a corner kick, Richie Ryan connected with the head of Saeed Robinson, who scored his first goal of the season against his former club.
21 minutes later, in the 74th minute, homegrown talent Omar Salgado broke free and unleashed a wicked left-footed strike that found the back of the net to give Locomotive FC a 2-goal advantage. The strike was Salgado’s second of the season.
Colorado Springs made things interesting in the 81st minute when Mamadi Camara scored to cut the deficit in half. However, El Paso’s backline was strong in the final minutes to preserve the win.
“We’ve built a great group of guys here, 22, 23, 24 guys that can all step in and make a difference,” said Salgado. “That’s what we did tonight. A lot of players that hadn’t played tonight stepped in and did their jobs and were able to get the result for us and that’s the most important part.”
It’s a short turnaround for Locomotive FC; they’ll host Real Monarchs for their third match in the last seven days on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. at Southwest University Park, looking to extend the unbeaten streak to eight matches.