Off the Rails on the El Paso Express

What to watch as Tacoma Defiance head to El Paso Locomotive FC Saturday night (6:30 p.m. / ESPN+).

Steaming out of the station, El Paso Locomotive FC launched their 2019 as one of the USL’s leaders. Since then, that train has sidetracked, slowing to a halt over the past couple months. Locomotive are now searching for their first win since June 22nd  (0-3-5). Tacoma Defiance have won two of their last three and are 2-1-2 in that same stretch. Shandon Hopeau scored in both wins.

Defiance Coach Little is going to focus more on recent form than the teams’ earlier matchup. Tacoma dropped a 2-1 decision to El Paso on Saturday, June 1 at Cheney Stadium.

“The bigger reference point is recent form. For us there are lots of areas that we feel are going well and there are some areas that we can improve. The reference point for the opposition and how we impose ourselves on them is the same thing – we look at their recent form, shape, personnel. They’ve got some good personnel. Then we look at how we match up against each other and the patterns and trends of the game that we can learn from.”

In Tacoma’s two wins, four different players scored goals. Little credits that to the Men in Black understanding the game model.

“I think from the Portland game at home – with blips at Colorado Springs and Salt Lake – we’ve been pleased with the performance level. The players have an understanding of our game model through the different phases, what we are trying to do and it’s not perfect, but we are starting to see a much more consistent performance level and a better understanding of our identity and who we are. That’s lead to much better results.”

The two trains, or teams, are passing in different directions. Since that loss on May 12 Tacoma is 2-5-4 on the climb and El Paso are 4-5-5 but pulling to the station for repairs.

 

El Paso Locomotive FC notes

  • Locomotive acquired French U-20 World Cup winner Alexy Bosetti in a trade with OKC Energy FC.
  • The match will feature El Paso Strong events honoring the victims of the August 3rd
  • El Paso has the third best goals against rate in the USL Championship Western Conference. They are particularly good tacklers throughout the pitch, but do not foul.
  • Coach Mark Lowry has his squad focusing on possession and pass success, controlling tempo. They lead the USL West in pass attempts and completion percentage.

Tacoma Defiance notes

  • Marlan Vargas scored his first professional goal in the win over Orange County SC.
  • Twelve different Men in Black have an assist on the season. Eight have a goal or more.
  • Thirty percent of Defiance’s goals come in the 15 minutes following half time.

 

MultiCare Pre-Match Health Report

Tacoma – Azriel Gonzalez is out (left foot fracture).

El Paso – No injuries reported.

How to Watch

Stadium: Southwest University Park, El Paso
Kickoff Time: Saturday, August 17 (6:30 p.m.)
Away: Tacoma Defiance (4-13-5, -33)
Home: El Paso Locomotive FC (7-7-8, -1)
Streaming: ESPN+

 

Defiantly Tacoma

Next Home Match: Tuesday August 27 at 7:00 p.m. against Phoenix Rising (tickets available).