EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Just win. It is that simple for El Paso Locomotive FC when they take to the pitch on Saturday against rival New Mexico United.
The match marks the sixth all-time meeting between the two clubs with United holding a 2-2-1 edge over Locomotive FC. However, El Paso dealt New Mexico their first loss in the series earlier this month with a 3-2 win back on Sept. 5 at the downtown ballpark.
“It’s always a bigger game when we play New Mexico,” said Locomotive FC head coach Mark Lowry. “It’s the rivalry, it’s the fans — it’s all those things. We enjoy getting one over our rival just like New Mexico likes getting one over us. That will always be there.”
As if the rivalry wasn’t charged enough, Los Locos can clinch the top spot in Group C with a win on Saturday. With the group comes a home playoff game.
“We wouldn’t want it to come against anyone else and to be at home is a really special thing,” said Locomotive FC defender Drew Beckie. “To be able to clinch it [Group C] is important, but we’re handling it like any other game. We are in the playoffs, sure, but we want to win the group.
Kickoff at Southwest University Park is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT. The match will air on ESPN+.
2020 Stats Snapshot (ELP/NM)
Goals For 20 / 22
Goals Against 14 / 17
Min/goal 58.5 / 53.2
Possession 54% / 49%
Passing Acc. 81.9% / 78.1%
Fouls 152 / 174
Yellow Cards 32 / 27
Red Cards 0 / 1
Locomotive Run Down
Behind a narrow 1-0 victory over the current USL Championship title winners Real Monarchs, El Paso Locomotive FC extended its club-historic winning streak to five as well as its undefeated streak to eight (7-0-1). The victory, paired with New Mexico United’s loss to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last weekend, puts the Locos Blue in a spot to control its own destiny. A win over their regional rival would give Locomotive claim to Group C and the right to host the USL Championship Western Conference Quarterfinals against either FC Tulsa or Austin Bold FC.
Player to Watch: For El Paso, movement in the middle of the park has been a key to success and Saeed Robinson has shown class with his passing through the final third. Over his last three appearances, Robinson has created two key chances for the Sun City, while completing 85% of his chances in that time. Paired his with the game-winning goal against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Robinson is a player to watch for Locomotive FC.
New Mexico United Run Down
United have earned the title “The Road Warriors” this season, having only one official “home” game on record (a “home” matched played at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs). Despite traveling away from their Albuquerque home for the 2020 season, United has been able to come away with a record of 7-4-2 (23 points) to clinch a playoff berth. With the fight for first still going strong, United will be looking to bounce back from their 2-1 loss against Switchbacks to keep their dreams of claiming Group C alive.
Player to Watch: Amando Moreno has continued to be critical in the attacking front for New Mexico United throughout the 2020 season. Leading his team alongside Chris Wehan with 6 goals and 4 assists, Moreno has proven to be clinical on the wing. Against Real Monarchs, Moreno found the brace in the 40th and 65th minute, pairing with Wehan, after having provided an assist of his own to David Estrada in the match against Locomotive. With Moreno’s run of form and the support he and Wehan provide each other, Amando Moreno is the player to watch for New Mexico United.