El Paso Locomotive look to reach the USL Championship final

El+Paso+Locomotive+Forward+Omar+Salgado+runs+against+a+member+of+Real+Monarchs+at+Southwest+University+Park%2C+Saturday%2C+Sept.+19.

Hugo Hinojosa

El Paso Locomotive Forward Omar Salgado runs against a member of Real Monarchs at Southwest University Park, Saturday, Sept. 19.

Heriberto Perez, Reporter

Tonight the El Paso Locomotive will try to enter its first USL Championship final in its second season of existence. The Locos will now face the second-best team of the Western Conference, the Phoenix Rising FC.  

The Locomotive comes into the final with a 13-game unbeaten streak since Aug. 1. El Paso‘s last loss of the season came at the hands of this weeks opponent by a score of 3-1. In that game, El Paso opened the scoring with a goal from forward Aaron Gomez, the equalizer came out at the 19th minute of the game with a penalty scored by Rufat Dadasov, the 2-1 came from Solomon Asante and the 3-1 by Junior Flemmings right before the halftime to keep the win for Phoenix.  

Phoenix has won seven out of the last eight games; the last time they lost was against the San Diego Loyal SC (3-2). The Rising also has a home record of 8-1-0 that can take advantage of this next weekend; EPaso has an away record of 2-1-3. 

Looking at each teams top players, the Locomotive count heavily on midfielder Dylan Mares, who has five goals, five assists and 33 shots in 17 appearances this season. In comparison, Aaron Gomez has the same number of goals, three assists and 44 shots. He had the same number of appearances. Gomez trails in the team lead with 44 chances for Mares to 14 for Gomez.  

In the back zone of El Paso, its goalkeeper Logan Ketterer, with 41 saves, eight clean sheets, and 17 goals conceded in 17 appearances, made him one of the leagues top keepers and second in the USL in shutouts. 

The Phoenix Rising has the top goal scorer of the league in Junior Flemmings. He has scored 14 goals, two assists, 45 shots, and 17 chances created in 14 appearances. Fleming is one of the leagues top players.  

Rufat Dadashov is another top player for the Rising with 11 goals, four assists, 39 shots and 28 chances created in 17 appearances. Phoenixs goalkeeper, Zac Lubin has 41 saves, same as Ketterer, five clean sheets, and 15 goals conceded in 15 appearances.  

These two teams have played three games since El Pasos debut in the USL, with all three games won by Phoenix.  

The winner of this western conference final will face the Eastern Conference Final winner between Louisville City FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies, most likely Nov. 1. Louisville was the best team of the eastern conference with 35 points, and the Tampa Bay Rowdies were the winners of Group H with 33 points and ended up in fourth place of the conference.  

Heriberto Perez may be reached at [email protected]