There’s a new, well-known club ready to join the Championship for the 2021 campaign, but ahead of a big night of midweek action we’re going to start today with a team that’s already made a name for itself on the field and off as it closes in on its second postseason berth. Here’s your Morning Tea for Wednesday.
A second consecutive trip to the postseason feels like a formality at this point for El Paso Locomotive FC. In fact, Head Coach Mark Lowry’s side could clinch its spot in the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs on Wednesday night when it takes on Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
But even with the side on a six-game undefeated streak and a three-game winning streak, there’s nothing being taken for granted given the club’s big-picture ambition.
“You have to continue that form and pressure and intensity that we’re building into every game and this one is no different,” Lowry told KTSM’s Colin Deaver on Tuesday. “It’s a game we want to win and are desperate to win, but we know Colorado will be difficult.”
Locomotive FC is one of the form teams in the Championship as of this moment. Those three wins in a row have come against Real Monarchs SLC, New Mexico United, and San Antonio FC. Each win has held a different reason for significance. For the Monarchs it was revenge for last year’s postseason elimination. For New Mexico, it was Locomotive FC’s first win all-time in the series between the regional rivals.
For San Antonio, it was victory against the last undefeated side in this year’s competition and an opportunity to potentially avoid a trip to Toyota Field when the postseason begins. Trailing New Mexico by two points with a game in hand going into Wednesday’s game, victory would send El Paso into first place. If it can end the season there, it’s guaranteed at least one home game against a potentially easier foe – likely FC Tulsa or Austin Bold FC – than a strong SAFC squad.
With one final meeting coming on the penultimate weekend of the season between Locomotive FC and United, getting the edge now means having the opportunity to defend it later.
That’s the key motivator for El Paso as it looks to record its first four-game winning streak in the club’s short history.
“Our ambition is to be at the top of our mini-group, rather than just make the playoffs,” said defender Andrew Fox, named on Tuesday to the Championship’s Team of the Week for Week 12. “That’s all the motivation we need, going into every game knowing we have to win, and Wednesday is no exception.”
I’m challenging ALL my fellow American soccer players to go get yourself & your locker rooms registered to vote— Forrest Lasso (@folasso) September 13, 2020
Hit the link. See what’s up with your State. Let’s do our part & bring some much needed change to the world we ALL live in https://t.co/ULa9IgMKrT
“When you would go to the first team like they punch it in, they really punch it in, move it quick, and if you don’t”. Jose Gallegos speaks on his experience when he first trained with the first team @JoseGallegos_17 @RafaCastillo_16 @SanAntonioFC— Leeroy Maguraushe (@LMaguraushe) September 14, 2020
Available on YouTube Now pic.twitter.com/GIsboA3ii5
- The big news on Tuesday was the arrival of Oakland Roots SC in the Championship for the 2021 season. Founded in 2018, the club is one of the more unique with its goal of using professional soccer as a conduit for social good. Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus broke down what Roots will bring to the Championship next spring.
- The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter and Sam Stejskal, meanwhile, spoke with Roots co-founders Edreece Arghandiwal and Benno Nagel, the club’s Chief Purpose Officer Mike Geddes and Chairman Steven Aldrich, going behind the scenes on the club’s formation and direction for an in-depth feature that’s a must-read.
- Memphis 901 FC made a coaching change on Tuesday, relieving Head Coach Tim Mulqueen of his duties and installing assistant coach Ben Pirmann as Interim Head Coach ahead of Saturday’s visit to Louisville City FC. “The results just haven’t been good enough, simple as that. We needed freshening up,” said 901 FC Sporting Director Tim Howard told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal’s Corinne Kennedy.
- The LA Galaxy II pulled off a remarkable three-goal comeback to earn a 3-2 victory against Las Vegas Lights FC on Tuesday night as Augustine Williams reached nine goals for the season. Los Dos are now two points ahead of San Diego Loyal SC and three points ahead of Orange County SC in the Group B standings in a playoff race that figures to go down to the wire.
- Louisville City FC has a chance to extend its lead at the top of Group E when it visits Indy Eleven on Wednesday night in the fourth and final LIPAFC of the regular season. Ahead of the game, Head Coach John Hackworth spoke with WDRB’s John Lewis about Antoine Hoppenot’s surge in form and playoff projections with four games left in the season.
- The Tampa Bay Rowdies have a playoff berth in sight as they visit Atlanta United 2 on Wednesday night, but in the big picture the side faces a battle for first place with the Charleston Battery that could be decided at Al Lang Stadium on the final weekend of the season. “We’re in a good spot,” Rowdies Head Coach Neill Collins told The Unused Substitute’s Jake Nutting. “It’s now about capitalizing on that the best we possibly can. So in many respects I’m pleased, but this is the interesting bit. This is the bit we want to get right. Rest assured we’re doing everything we can to do that.”
- With the potential the side could clinch its second playoff trip on Saturday, New Mexico United said the 1,000 tickets on sale for its “home” game at Weidner Field against Colorado Springs Switchbacks are selling quickly. “The opportunity to see them in person finally for the first time this year, I think is something that a lot of people are taking advantage of, and to that point, there are just a couple hundred left,” said The Curse supporters group President David Carl.
- Sacramento Republic FC is still on an eight-game undefeated streak, but Head Coach Mark Briggs was not happy with his side’s late letdown on Saturday night against Reno 1868 FC that resulted in 3-3 draw. “We were the better team, but we have to learn,” Briggs told reporters. “It’s not good enough to keep saying ‘Next time, next time.’ No, there’s not a next time.”
Tag(s): San Antonio FC CO Spring Switchbacks LA Galaxy II Portland Timbers 2 Real Monarchs SLC Sacramento Republic FC Philadelphia Union II Louisville City FC New York Red Bulls II Tampa Bay Rowdies Birmingham Legion FC Austin Bold FC Atlanta United 2 Indy Eleven Memphis 901 FC El Paso Locomotive FC New Mexico United Loudoun United FC Hartford Athletic The Morning Tea