EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – For at least the next week, El Paso Locomotive FC is officially the best team in the entire USL Championship.
Not the Mountain Division; not the Western Conference; the entire league. That came by virtue of El Paso’s dominant 3-0 win over Austin Bold FC on Saturday night at Southwest University Park.
Locomotive FC’s 37 points is one more than both Phoenix Rising and Louisville City, and the achievement comes at the end of a torturous stretch of the schedule in which El Paso played five games in 14 days.
One of the toughest parts of their schedule is over, and it was navigated masterfully; Los Locos managed four wins and one draw during the 2-week period.
“We took these two weeks and compartmentalized it,” said head coach Mark Lowry. “Five games in 14 days is kind of a mini-season. Let’s win all of these games, focus on and manage this squad for these five games. Up to today, it was three wins and a tie so it’s been good. Don’t lose tonight and ruin the work we’ve done over the last 10 days. Let’s finish the job. That was the message in the locker room. Get a win, get a good performance, entertain the fans, finish the job so we can feel good about our work over these last two weeks.”
El Paso was clearly the better side throughout the match, but a bevy of early chances in the first half went begging. A big save by goalkeeper Logan Ketterer managed to keep things scoreless at halftime.
That finally changed in the 59th minute. On a corner kick, defender Andrew Fox rose up high in the box to head home the opening goal, finally breaking the seal. It was Fox’s first goal of the 2021 season and came just a few days after he returned from injury.
13 minutes later, Locomotive FC was awarded a free kick just outside the area. Dylan Mares, who had come on less than five minutes before, swung in a wicked ball that bounced once, before sliding neatly into the side netting.
That put the match away, but El Paso wasn’t done just yet. In stoppage time, for good measure, Diego Luna and Leandro Carrijo came together on a beautiful combination play that ended with Carrijo one-timing a strike into the net to put the icing on the cake.
The victory is El Paso’s fourth in a row and runs their unbeaten streak to eight matches. They also have not lost a game at Southwest University Park since July 24, 2020.
“We’re in a great run of form at the moment,” said Fox. “There are some tired legs at the moment after these couple weeks so to come out of it with four wins and a draw, and ending it with clean sheet as well is really important. We have a good thing going on and just need to keep it going.”
El Paso outshot Austin 24-5 and held 65 percent of the possession in the win. They also completed 91 percent of their passes, all true signs of a fantastic performance in Mark Lowry’s system.
Locomotive FC finally gets a bit of a reprieve, with seven days off until their next match. It won’t be easy, though. El Paso will hit the road to Albuquerque for the second time in three weeks to face rival New Mexico United on Aug. 14 at 7:30 p.m.