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New Mexico United derails El Paso Locomotive FC’s historic undefeated streak

The Locomotive’s hope to carry its momentum back to El Paso Saturday, Sept. 2 to face off against Monterey Bay FC at Southwest University Park. Photo courtesy of the Prospector archive

After starting the season with three losses, the El Paso Locomotive FC (9-4-3) managed to turn its season around with a 12-game unbeaten streak, a franchise record. That record ended this weekend with a 0-1 loss to “Derby del Camino Real” rival New Mexico United (6-7-3) (NM United). 

The historic run started on the road with a 3-0 win over Louisville City FC. The Locos capitalized on three of six shots on target with goals from defender Marc Navarro in the thirty-ninth minute, forward Ricardo Zacarias in the forty-fifth minute and midfielder Petar Petrovic in the fifty-seventh minute. Goaltender Benny Diaz blocked two shots allowing El Paso to defeat Louisville for the first time in the two clubs’ history. 

The Locomotive would add to its undefeated run against FC Tulsa, Orange County SC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, San Diego Loyal SC and Colorado Switchbacks FC with the team’s only draw coming against FC Tulsa. In the 4-0-1 stretch, the Locomotive’s offense outscored its opponents 10-5. 

The streak’s standing would fall into question as midfielder Yuma Monsalvez would fall to injury and the young Swedish defender Erik McCue would take the veteran’s position. McCue would make his presence known as, in his six starts, he would note an assist, a game-winning goal against the Las Vegas Lights and a game-defining save in the same game against Las Vegas. In his short time starting for the Locos, McCue has cemented himself as an integral piece on both offense and defense. 

The Locomotive would continue its journey with only two draws since Yuma’s injury. Stars continued to break out as the team’s streak continued. Forward Luis “Lucho” Solignac lead the USL Championship with eight goals, with the Ukrainian midfielder Denys Kostyshyn following behind with four goals on the season. 

The team faced a worthy challenge this past Saturday, as rival NM United came into Southwest University Park. The two clubs faced each other no less than a month ago, June 3. The match resulted in a Locomotive road win at Isotopes Park. Both teams appeared evenly matched throughout the night, but a Kostyshyn goal in the seventy-first minute sealed the win for the Locos. 

The biggest headline entering the match was the departure of NM United Head Coach Zach Prince, June 3, after taking an assistant position with the MLS’ New York Red Bulls. Taking over for Prince was Eric Quill, who had previous experience in the USL’s League One with North Texas SC. 

Now, with home-field advantage and a historically packed stadium, El Paso faired more or less the same for the majority of the game. Both teams left the first half scoreless with NM United edging out El Paso with one shot on target, the Locos commanded almost 70 percent of total possession. 

Entering the second half, NM United notched four shots on target, with a gut-wrenching goal coming from forward Santiago Moar in the eighty-ninth minute. With five minutes of stoppage, El Paso would not be able to score, leaving the game scoreless, the first time since the team’s March 11 loss to Sacramento Republic FC. 

Despite the end of the team’s 12-game undefeated streak, El Paso drew a massive 8,411-person crowd, a franchise record. 

The rivalry also drew a number of fouls. Officials called a total of 20 fouls and six yellow cards for both teams. 

The heartbreaking loss has not sunk the team’s morale moving forward as Head Coach and Technical Director Brian Clarhaut detailed postgame. 

“It’s a bit sour,” Clarhaut said. “For me, I don’t throw it away. We need to learn from it. For us, it’s a bit of a wake-up call. We can’t get complacent. We need to be sharper. That’s something we’ll talk about and get ready for (Monterey Bay FC). This is a group that will respond.” 

The Locos will now travel to Cardinale Stadium in Seaside, California to face off against Monterey Bay FC (9-2-6) at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 8 with the match streaming live on ESPN+. 

The next home match will be against San Antonio FC (7-3-7) and will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 12 at Southwest University Park with a live broadcast on ESPN+. The match will also be part one of the Locomotive’s “Noche de Locos” with a Hawaiian shirt giveaway. 

All statistics are provided by USL Championship and 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela Armendariz is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected] and @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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