EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Locomotive FC continued rolling through the USL Championship Playoffs on Saturday night as the No. 6 seed earned its first home postseason win with an impressive 3-0 victory over No. 7 seed Sacramento Republic FC in the Western Conference Semifinals at Southwest University Park.
Locomotive FC advances to take on No. 4 seed Real Monarchs SLC in the Western Conference Final on Saturday afternoon at Zions Bank Stadium.
The hosts created the first quality chance of the night seven minutes into the contest when Omar Salgado powered his way through the Sacramento defense and fired a right-footed shot from the right side of the box that Republic FC goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth just tipped over the crossbar.
Salgado tried his luck again in the 36th minute when he nicely settled Yuma’s lofted pass on the right wing, but the forward blasted his left-footed shot from distance over the target. Locomotive FC would take the lead from a set piece just four minutes later, however, as James Kiffe’s left-wing free kick found Josue Aaron Gomez at the near post and he nicely flicked a header beyond Shuttleworth into the bottom-right corner.
Republic FC came on strong on the other side of halftime and nearly found its equalizer in the 66th minute when the El Paso defense failed to clear its lines from right-wing cross and allowed Thomas Enevoldsen to fire a left-footed shot from eight yards out that was blocked out of play by a sliding Andrew Fox.
The Locomotive FC defender was called into action again moments later when Villyan Bijev picked out Drew Skundrich at the back post and Fox made a vital intervention on the goal line, heading the goal-bound effort off the post and back into play.
Sacramento continued to apply the pressure in search of an equalizer and again came close in the 80th minute when Enevoldsen cut the ball back for Cameron Iwasa at the top of the box, but the forward saw his first-time shot clawed wide by the outstretched palm of El Paso goalkeeper Logan Ketterer.
Locomotive FC was given a glorious chance to double its lead with seven minutes remaining as Dekel Keinan fouled Salgado in the penalty area and substitute Sebastian Contreras stepped up to the spot and rolled the ball into the left corner, sending Shuttleworth the wrong way to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
The hosts would go on to put the game out of reach in the 88th minute when Sebastian Velasquez took Drew Beckie’s pass on the left wing, drove inside his defender and fired a shot across Shuttleworth into the side-netting to send the expansion side to the Western Conference Final.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Sebastian Velasquez, El Paso Locomotive FC – Velasquez completed 87 percent of his passes and 5 of 7 dribbles, won 11 of 15 duels and capped the night with a goal as Locomotive FC won its final home game of the postseason.