FC Juarez Surprises Once Again, El Paso Locomotive Closes Out 3-Match Week
Both FC Juarez and El Paso Locomotive saw action last weekend. The Bravos traveled to face Toluca in the city by the same name while El Paso Locomotive FC hosted the Rio Grande Valley Toros in what was their second consecutive home match in the span of three days. Let's catch up with the squads and preview what's to come.
Bravos defeat Toluca 4-2
The opponents have not gotten any easier for FC Juarez. They opened the season with Club America on the road, then hosted Tigres in their home opener. For the third match of the season, the Bravos traveled to central Mexico to face Toluca and delivered another shocking result in the Liga BBVA MX winning by the score of 4-2.
Toluca gave the Bravos all they could handle coming back to tie the game on two separate occasions. Still, that was not enough as FC Juarez once again demonstrated the grit that new head coach and technical director Diego Mejia has been alluding to every time he speaks to the media, a characteristic he wants this team to be identified by.
Two of the four goals by the Bravos were absolute bangers, with Agustin Urzi scoring a pair of goals.
The team from the Borderland has been able to obtain seven of the nine points that have been disputed in the early part of the 2023 apertura season good enough for third place in the general standings table.
The league will now take a month-long hiatus as all of its teams will participate in the inaugural League’s Cup where all the teams from the MLS and Liga MX will face each other in a World Cup-like style tournament.
FC Juarez will now travel to Austin to play in the group phase of this tournament. Next Tuesday night they will face fellow Liga MX team Mazatlan FC and on Saturday night Austin FC. Both matches will take place in Q2 Stadium in Austin.
Locomotive gets a draw against RGV Toros in the closing minutes
El Paso Locomotive FC salvaged a point last Saturday playing to a 1-1 draw against the Rio Grande Valley Toros at Southwest University Park in downtown El Paso.
The equalizer came in the match's closing minutes and gave El Paso a point for the draw that maintains them in third place of the western conference of the USL Championship.
That match against the Toros was the third match in the span of seven days for Locomotive so fatigue was clearly a factor in this one. Out of the nine points disputed in the course of the week, the Locos were only able to obtain two. Three match weeks in the world of soccer are complicated and while the about of points obtained is low, everyone on the team feels that it is not indicative of the current form of the team.
Here’s what happened
Locomotive FC had a spark at the beginning of the match. In the first few minutes, they were overtly proactive in getting offensive third. That didn’t last. From there the first real threat on goal did not come until the 16th minute. When a shot by the Toros was saved by goalkeeper Benny Diaz.
In what appeared to be another bland sequence in a rather mundane half, RGV’s Tomas Ritandale sent a cross across the box. A gust of wind appeared to hold the ball in mid-air keeping it in play landing at the feet of Wilmer Cabrerra Jr. who did not hesitate to take the shot with his shin. The ball gingerly rolled past Diaz for the score to give the visiting side a 1-0 lead in the 38th minute. The score would remain until the end of the first half.
Head coach and technical director for El Paso Brian Clarhaut waited less than 15 minutes to make changes, making a four man substitution in the 58th minute. A rare but aggressive move by the Locomotive boss.
The substitutions marked a noted change in El Paso’s proficiency. Chris Garcia was an obvious spark for the home team that desperately tried to get back in the match.
The equalizer came in the 89th minute when on a free kick Eric Calvillo decided to lay the ball off to Marc Navarro on the right flank. Navarro decided instantly to send a service into the goalbox that found Josue Aaron Gomez who got his head on the ball via a diving header to put the ball in the back of the net.
What was said
After the match head coach and technical director Brian Clarhaut spoke with the media and said, “Considering our play, especially in the first half, we’re happy with getting that late equalizer. I thought it was our worst performance of the year. Sometimes good teams find ways to get points when they are not at their best.”
Clarhaut was able to put his finger on what it was about his team’s performance that was not up to par saying, “I thought we looked unorganized in the first half, we didn’t have enough attacking ideas and that’s something I have to take responsibility for. I didn’t think we were dangerous enough in the first half.”
The Locos will turn to their third straight home match in a row as they will welcome the Oakland Roots to downtown El Paso and Southwest University Park Saturday night in what will be their first matchup of the 2023 season. Oakland played regional rival Monterey Bay on the road last Saturday night winning by the score of 3-1. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. As always the match will be televised via streaming on ESPN+. Tickets are available on the Locomotive website and at the Southwest University Park box office.