EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – 800 paying customers got their money’s worth at Southwest University Park on Saturday night.
Playing with fans in the stands for the first time during the pandemic, El Paso Locomotive FC defeated Real Monarchs SLC 2-1 on a goal by Bryam Rebellon in the 86th minute. The victory was El Paso’s third in the last four games and runs its unbeaten streak to four matches.
Locomotive FC’s front office allowed 800 fans in to the stadium for the match, which is 11 percent capacity. All fans were required to wear a mask the entire time and were seated sporadically throughout the stadium to allow for proper social distancing.
The sides played to a scoreless tie through the first 45 minutes; in the 54th minute, Los Locos finally broke through. Dylan Mares served up a perfect corner kick into the box that defender Brent Kallman calmly headed in to put El Paso on top 1-0. It was Kallman’s first goal for the club after joining the team a few weeks ago.
“Attacking corners was something we worked on during the week,” Kallman said. “We executed it and it worked perfectly. I won’t be missing that one very often.”
Monarchs equalized in the 81st minute on a goal from Kyle Coffee, one of their only chances of the match. But five minutes later, off of a deflected cross, Rebellon scored the winner with a rocket off his left foot.
There was a scary moment immediately following the goal, as Rebellon was elbowed in the head as he took the shot, seemingly knocking him out cold on the field. Thankfully, he was able to walk off under his own power. Locomotive FC did not yet know the status of Rebellon’s injury.
Locomotive head coach Mark Lowry credited the fans in attendance for giving them an extra push over the edge.
“Even though it was only 800, you felt the presence, and it was so nice to have that,” Lowry said. “Hopefully there’s no fallout from this, that’s the most important thing.”
Locomotive FC and Monarchs came together from the 7-minute mark to the 8:46-minute mark of the first half at midfield for a moment in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of George Floyd in police hands. Real Monarchs owner Dell Loy Hansen made some questionable remarks about the ongoing protests in the sports world in support of Black Lives Matter earlier in the week.
With the victory, Locomotive now sits on 15 points, good for second place in USL Championship Group C behind New Mexico United’s 20 points. Those two are beginning to open up a gap between them and the bottom two teams; Colorado Springs Switchbacks is third with 7 points; Monarchs is fourth with 5 points.
El Paso has a busy week ahead of it; Los Locos play at Colorado Springs on Wednesday, before coming home next Saturday to host New Mexico United.