HERRIMAN, Utah – El Paso Locomotive FC struck early and pulled away late to clinch first place in Group C ahead of the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs as it defeated Real Monarchs SLC 4-0 at Zions Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Locomotive FC’s win moved it clear of New Mexico United and set up a home game against FC Tulsa in the Western Conference Quarterfinals next weekend.
Coming off consecutive scoreless draws, El Paso went ahead in just the eighth minute. Haitian international Mechack Jerome played a lifted ball from midfield into the right side of the Monarchs’ penalty area to find the run of Macauley King, whose first-time pass back to the top of the penalty area was met by a low shot from Dylan Mares that picked out the bottom-right corner of the net.
The Monarchs tried to hit back in the 23rd minute as Steve Jasso cut past a defender as he entered the penalty area, but saw his shot blocked away to safety by the Locomotive FC defense. El Paso then almost doubled its lead five minutes before halftime as Richie Ryan slid a through-ball into the left side of the penalty area for Josue Aaron Gomez that caught Real’s defense flat-footed, but Gomez’s finish came off the crossbar and was cleared to safety.
Real threatened again early in the second half as Dayonn Harris broke into space down the right, but his low cross to the top of the six-yard area was intercepted and turned behind for a corner by Jerome just ahead of forward Kyle Coffee arriving to finish. The Monarchs almost leveled once more just past the hour-mark but Ryan Sierakowski’s finish from close range off another cross by Harris.
El Paso went close to doubling its lead in the 68th minute as a cross from the left by Eder Borelli was headed onto the right post by Chapa Herrera’s. Less than a minute later, however, Herrera won possession in the attacking third and quickly slipped a pass through to Mares, whose initial shot was saved by Monarchs goalkeeper Jimmy Slayton, but the rebound popped high into the air. Slayton recovered to try and punch clear, but his attempt went straight to Gomez, who sent a side-footed volley found the right corner of the net to make it a two-goal game.
Locomotive FC then wrapped up all three points with 12 minutes to go as Saeed Robinson broke in behind the Monarchs’ back line to latch onto a through-ball by Mares before cutting back past a covering defender and firing a finish into the left corner of the net. Robinson then grabbed a fourth with three minutes to go as he seized on a mishit pass back to the goalkeeper to finish around an advancing Slayton to put the exclamation point on a morale-boosting win before the postseason.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Dylan Mares, El Paso Locomotive FC – Mares notched a goal and assist, putting Locomotive FC ahead early, recorded three shots and two key passes while also completing 26 of 32 passes overall.