EP Locomotive clinch playoff spot after winning the “Noche de Locos.”

Heriberto Perez, Reporter

El Paso Locomotive won its sixth game out of its last seven games and secured a spot in this years playoffs. The Locos had a challenging match against the groups last place team, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, but held on to win the game 2-1. 

Besides earning a spot at the playoffs, the Locos also rose to its groups first place and will try to keep it after the weekend matchup against the USL reigning champion, the Real Monarchs. 

The first half of the game was very sloppy for both teams. A shot from Locomotive midfielder Chapa Herrera that went over the crossbar was one of the unique chances that the Locos had on the first 45 minutes.  

At the 53-minute mark, team captain Richie Ryan took the corner kick right to the nearest post and found midfielder Saeed Robinsons head for the 1-0 partial for the home team. 

Ten minutes later, the Switchbacks had an excellent chance to equalize the game when winger Uvaldo Luna took a strong shot that did not surprise Locos goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, who defended Lunas shot and a bounce after that. Ketterer had a couple of late saves after this one. 

At the 74-minute of the match, forward Omar Salgado received the ball at the left side of the field and, with a clean strike to the furthest post, doubled the lead for the Locos with a score. 

The Switchbacks started its pressure on the Locomotives right after the first score. Still, it was not until the 81st-minute of the game when Switchback forward10 Luke Ferreira found attacking midfielder Mamadi Camara taking advantage of a defensive mistake by the Locomotive for the score to make it 2-1. 

For 70, 75, 80 minutes we were good, I was happy with the adjustments, happy with the performance, happy with the guys who came in, Head Coach Mark Lowry said.  

“Tactically, we managed the game and we had adjustments that highly impressed us, which allow us to take control in the second half. Colorado is a tough team, and they hang around, they stick to you, they dont give in, very dangerous team, they got some plays that can hurt you and they got their goal. 

El Paso gained confidence during this winning streak maintaining it over the past few games and look forward to continuing this streak for the final four games of the season. The teams improvement over the previous few games has the Locos with a 7-3-2 record and one point ahead of New Mexico for first place. 

Momentum is such an important thing and we talked about it before the game, said Lowry. Momentum in winning games over a period of time, momentum throughout the game to start fast and keep that tempo for 90 minutes. Momentum is a really dangerous thing, and if you have its good, but you can lose it quickly. One game, one bad performance, one loss, and you lose it quickly. While we have it, we have to make sure we keep it, and thats approaching every game every day with the same intensity and the same attitude. 

Now that the Locos clinched the playoffs for a second-straight season, El Paso will try to keep the first place of Group C when they face the defending USL Champion, the SLC Real Monarchs Saturday. The game will be 7:30 p.m. at  Southwest University Park and will be broadcast on ESPN+.  

Heriberto Perez may be reached at Prospector.utep.edu.