EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Locomotive FC hit the woodwork early and often while New Mexico United had a late chance ruled out for offside, and that proved as close as either side would come to finding the net on Saturday night in a 0-0 draw at Southwest University Park that saw Locomotive FC retain a four-point lead at the top of the Group C standings.
Omar Salgado almost got the game off to a roaring start inside the opening minute as the Locomotive FC forward clipped the top of the crossbar with a curling effort toward the top-right corner of the net from 30 yards out. His effort was followed by that of Haitian international Mechack Jerome, who launched a free kick from 35 yards out that hit the left post and went behind for a goal kick.
Locomotive FC kept up its early pressure and hit the woodwork a third time in the fifth minute. After Bryam Rebellon was unable to turn home a chipped cross from the right by Macauley King in at the far post, the hosts kept play alive through Dylan Mares on the left side of the area. Mares’ cross found Josue Aaron Gomez cutting into the six-yard area, but his header came off the crossbar and was then parried away by New Mexico goalkeeper Cody Mizell to keep the game scoreless.
Mares went close again for the hosts in the 24th minute as he regained with the ball after trying to pass in New Mexico’s half and fired a shot that Mizell parried away. Gomez was also denied by Mizell on a low shot to the right corner from just over 20 yards before United’s defense cleared to safety, while the visitors had only one real look on goal before the break as Devon Sandoval had a header saved by El Paso’s Logan Ketterer.
New Mexico threatened again eight minutes into the second half as Chris Wehan fired a free kick from 30 yards just over the top-right corner of the net. A minute later Mizell had to come up big again as Gomez tried to control a high ball into the penalty area only for United’s goalkeeper to quickly come off his line and smother the ball before Gomez could get a shot away, allowing his defenders to recover and clear.
Amando Moreno went close to breaking the deadlock for New Mexico in the 58th minute as his header off a cross from the left by Andrew Tinari took a deflection off a defender on the way to goal, only for Ketterer to smother the effort on his goal line. Sandoval also threatened with 14 minutes to go but his header off a corner kick by Josh Suggs from the right glanced wide of the left post.
El Paso tried to press late for a winner and almost grabbed one with 10 minutes to go when a cross by Eder Borelli from the left went just out of the reach of Leandro Carrijó. New Mexico then put the ball into the net in stoppage time, but Josh Suggs was ruled offside as after miscuing his initial chance, the ball rebounded to him off a teammate, but now in an offside position in front of the ball before he tapped the ball over the goal line.
That would prove to be the last chance for either side, however, as honors ended even between the rivals for the second time this campaign.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Cody Mizell, New Mexico United – Mizell produced some crucial moments to keep New Mexico in the game in the first half after El Paso’s early pressure as the visitors earned a point.