SAN ANTONIO – Goals in either half by veteran Luis Solignac and 17-year-old Diego Luna sent El Paso Locomotive FC to a 2-1 victory against San Antonio FC on Wednesday night at Toyota Field to move the visitors three points clear at the top of the USL Championship’s Mountain Division.
Squaring off for the first time this season, Locomotive FC created the first good look in the 10th minute as Josue Aaron Gomez fired a shot from the left side of the penalty area toward the near post where SAFC goalkeeper Matt Cardone got enough of a piece to turn the ball onto the post where it caromed to safety. The visitors took the lead in the 18th minute, however, as a San Antonio defender was ruled to have handballed in his own penalty area. Solignac stepped up for El Paso and converted, only to be told to retake after encroachment on the edge of the penalty area, but the Argentine kept his cool and shot to the right side to put Locomotive FC ahead against his former club.
Jose Gallegos looked to reply for San Antonio just past the half-hour mark as he made a driving run into the left side of the penalty area but had his shot saved by El Paso’s Logan Ketterer. The hosts then put the ball in the net seven minutes before halftime on a cleverly conceived free kick that played in Marcus Epps for a low shot to the left corner, only for the offside flag to be raised to deny the goal. Epps then provided a golden opportunity for San Antonio to level in first-half stoppage time with a low cross from the right that found Nathan Fogaca breaking into the six-yard area, but the Brazilian lifted his finish over the crossbar.
Locomotive FC had a chance to add to its lead in with just over 20 minutes to go as a short corner came to Richie Ryan on the left for an angled cross to the back post that found Eder Borelli, whose headed finish was met by an outstanding save by Cardone. El Paso went close again a minute later as Luna fired just wide of the right post from just inside the penalty area, but in the 71st minute the young playmaker found the net as the ball fell kindly for him off a deflected shot by Sebastian Velasquez that Luna controlled and lifted into the right corner of the net to double Locomotive FC’s lead.
That two-goal advantage was short-lived as three minutes later San Antonio capitalized on a chance from a set piece. Cam Lindley delivered the free kick from 40 yards out in the right channel to the left side of the penalty area where Axel Sjoberg was on hand to head precisely just inside the left post to five the hosts some hope. Another set piece by Lindley in the 78th minute found Justin Dhillon, but the forward was unable to get enough purchase on his header to challenge Ketterer.
Dylan Mares twice went close to restoring El Paso’s cushion with about 10 minutes to go with the second of the two chances forcing a good punched save by Cardone. San Antonio continued to look for an equalizer as time wound down, though, and with a minute to go a good cross from the left by Chris Lema just eluded Dhillon at the near post before bouncing away to safety. There would be no late goal for the hosts, though, as El Paso closed out an impressive road victory.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Diego Luna, El Paso Locomotive FC – Luna scored what proved to be the game-winning goal and had a positive performance overall, recording five shots and three key passes while completing 30 of 36 passes and making eight recoveries defensively.
ELP – Luis Solignac (Penalty Kick) 18’
ELP – Diego Luna 71’
SA – Axel Sjoberg (Cam Lindley) 74’