EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Locomotive FC saw its undefeated start to the 2021 USL Championship season continue, but its shutout streak come to an end in a 1-1 draw with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Saturday night at Southwest University Park as Hadji Barry’s penalty kick earned a point for the visitors.
Coming off a midweek victory on home turf, Locomotive FC grabbed the lead with the first real chance of the game in the 12th minute as Dylan Mares’ corner kick from the right went over a crowd at the near post and came to Macauley King near the top of the six-yard area for a volleyed finish into the left side of the net that left the goalkeeper little chance.
The Switchbacks had a big chance to level four minutes later when Barry began a move toward the left flank that reached Michee Ngalina. The Congolese winger’s low delivery found Deshane Beckford cutting to the top of the six-yard area, but the Jamaican couldn’t turn his finish on target as it went wide of the right post. Sebastian Anderson also had an effort for the visitors in the 19th minute off a free kick from 25 yards, but it went comfortably over the top-left corner of the net.
El Paso almost added to its lead 11 minutes before halftime as a move down the left saw Josue Aaron Gomez center for Dylan Mares, who had a first effort blocked by Jimmy Ockford after it had beaten the goalkeeper Sean Melvin. The rebound came to Leandro Carrijo, but his effort was kept out by Jordan Burt as the visitors held on before Melvin could scramble to gather the ball. After keeping El Paso from scoring, Ockford then threatened at the other end but didn’t get enough purchase on his header after a short corner on the right was delivered into the penalty area by Anderson.
Gomez had another big chance for Locomotive FC 12 minutes into the second half as he was dribbled past a trio of defenders into the left side of the penalty area before having his shot turned aside by Melvin. Then with 21 minutes to go Mares almost found a second for the hosts as he turned to find space in the right side of the penalty area but sent his curling finish over the crossbar.
The Switchbacks found an equalizer with 17 minutes to go, however as Ngalina was brought down in the penalty area, giving the visitors a chance to convert from the spot. Barry stepped up and buried his finish into the top-right corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season. Locomotive FC almost regained the lead immediately as a move shifting play from right to left came to Gomez, who released Eder Borelli for a first-time shot from a narrow angle that Melvin stood up well to.
El Paso threatened again with seven minutes to go as Diego Luna released Aidan Apodaca in behind the Colorado Springs defense for a shot from the left side of the penalty area that Melvin tipped onto the woodwork and behind for a corner kick. Apodaca then had a chance to grab a late winner as a free kick from the left by Mares deflected off a defender and was parried by Melvin with Apodaca lurking, but he was unable to direct his rebound chance on target. Mares then threatened again for the hosts, only to send a curling shot from 25 yards just wide of the left post.
A winner would not arrive for either side, though, as Barry almost grabbed a late goal for the visitors with a turning shot from the right side of the penalty area that El Paso goalkeepe Logan Ketterer had to turn wide of the near post. Locomotive FC then produced the final big chance deep in stoppage time as an angled cross from the left by Borelli found Luis Solignac in the penalty area, only for the Argentine to mistime his header and send his finish well wide of the left post to leave the points shared.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Michee Ngalina, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Ngalina drew the penalty kick that allowed the Switchbacks to equalized and had one shot and three key passes while completing five dribbles and winning 8 of 15 duels.
ELP – Macauley King (Dylan Mares) 12’
COS – Hadji Barry (Penalty Kick) 73’