EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – With two matches left in its inaugural season, El Paso Locomotive FC can clinch a playoff berth by earning a single point in its home finale on Tuesday against Portland Timbers 2.
All El Paso has to do is earn a draw against Portland and they’ll be assured a spot in USL Championship’s Western Conference playoffs. However, there’s even more on the table for Los Locos on Tuesday.
If Locomotive FC wins, they will clinch a playoff spot and also earn at least a home game for the first round of the playoffs. With one match remaining after Tuesday, there are also multiple scenarios in which El Paso can move even higher in the standings and avoid the first round altogether with a bye.
The top six teams in each conference earn a first round bye. The remaining four meet in the play-in round, with the 7-seed hosting the 10-seed and the 8-seed hosting the 9-seed. Currently, El Paso holds on to the 8-seed and with a win Tuesday, they will lock up at worst the 8-seed and the first round home game that comes with it.
However, just five points separate Locomotive FC from fourth place, meaning that multiple scenarios could see El Paso move up higher and avoid the first round altogether. Despite all the opportunities to move up the standings, Los Locos are just focused on the Portland match and getting into the playoffs, then seeing what happens when they get there.
“These games don’t come around that often, these games that are almost like finals don’t come around that often,” Locomotive FC head coach Mark Lowry said. “I’d like to think we’ll be in a better spot next year and having these chances again but right now we have this incredible opportunity to bring this game here, playoff soccer to El Paso.”
Tuesday’s match against Portland was rescheduled from August 3, because of the Cielo Vista WalMart shooting. El Paso and Portland will kick off at 7 p.m. on Tuesday evening.