I was watching some Premier League soccer this last week. Brentford fans were shouting "Olé!" as their players passed the ball in and around Arsenal. Now I'm not saying we have to do that against the Toros this weekend, but can we do that against the Toros this weekend?
MATCH DETAILS: USL Championship Regular Season Game #18; vs Rio Grande Valley FC; 7:30 p.m. MT kickoff; Gates at 6:30 p.m. MT
VENUE/WEATHER: Southwest University Park; El Paso, Texas; 88F degrees partly cloudy.
TICKETS: Click Here!
WATCH: ESPN+| El Paso - Las Cruces CW
RECORDS/STANDINGS: Locomotive: 11-1-5 (38 points, MTN-1); RVGFC: 8-6-4 (28 points, MTN-3)
PREVIOUS MEETING: These two clubs have not met since late June when Locomotive traveled to H-E-B Park in a match that saw Locomotive close its 18-game regular season undefeated streak. After a failed offside trap in the early 5 minutes of the match, Rio Grande Valley’s Carter Manly found the back of the net to give RGV the quick lead. El Paso pulled one back in the first half with a free-kick from Dylan Mares that Jose Aguinaga deflected into the net. RGV Toros ran away in the second half scoring in the 61st and 73rd minutes to close out the win despite Lucho Solignac pulling a goal back in the 82nd minute and reigniting the spark for El Paso.
Obviously, the last time we visited Rio Grande Valley FC, we didn’t have the best time. Despite a strong late-game push, Locomotive suffered its first defeat through regulation time since losing to New Mexico United in July 2020. The 18-game undefeated streak came to a close with the Toros hiccup, but Locomotive has shown that the game is just that: Nothing but a hiccup. Since falling at H-E-B Park, the Loco Blue has kicked off a new undefeated streak by coming away with at least a point in the nine games with a record of 7-0-2. Already, El Paso has reached the halfway mark of its former undefeated regular-season record, and with RGV coming to visit it’s an opportunity to prove the loss was just a hiccup and to continue a second consecutive impressive undefeated streak.
The Boys in Blue have been running away with the Mountain Division in most recent weeks. With a tight string of games seeing Locomotive use its games in hands, El Paso now sits quite comfortably atop the Mountain Division, as opposed to fighting neck and neck with its weekend opponent, RGVFC. In its last five games, El Paso has secured four wins and a draw, propelling Los Locos away from the pack on the Division table. While the wheels on Rio Grande Valley have spun in place, holding on to 28 points and second place, Locomotive has rocketed to 38 points to command the top seed. Meanwhile, the teams below the Texas sides have begun to pick up their stride with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC challenging RGVFC for second and San Antonio, Austin Bold, and New Mexico United close behind. A win for El Paso Locomotive on Saturday, paired with results elsewhere could mean the Mountain Division becomes a fight for second rather than a fight for first.
It’s gone largely unnoticed and unsaid, but El Paso Locomotive is ironclad. Through the goalkeeping heroics from Logan Ketterer, Ben Beaury, and Adrian Zendejas, Locomotive leads the league in clean sheets with eight shutouts after 17 games. El Paso has also conceded the lowest amount of goals, allowing only 11 goals while the next closest is Phoenix Rising FC having conceded 14 goals through the season. Playing as a team where even the strikers get back to help defend, has led El Paso to be one of the toughest teams to play against across the league.
El Paso Locomotive is dangerously close to claiming the Copa Tejas for the Sun City. Los Locos have played 6 out of the 12 games in the Copa Tejas, amassing 15 points to lead the Copa Tejas table. In second place sits Rio Grande Valley FC, who just played their 10th game in the tournament, earning a draw against Austin Bold FC. With plenty of games in hand, Locomotive is primed to edge out the competition and secure the Copa Tejas next month, in September. Following the draw between RGVFC and Austin Bold, should Locomotive earn a win over RGV this weekend, both Bold and RGV would be eliminated from Copa Tejas contention, leaving San Antonio FC the lone challenger to Locomotive for the title. A win over the Toros and San Antonio next week, would all but give Locomotive the Copa Tejas in the USL Championship.