Point Is, Locomotive FC Keeps Grinding Out Results
It's so hard to see how good this game was. Everyone wants wins, no one wants losses, and this was neither.
Ninety minutes. A slog in the slop. A game braced by fouls.
Not the kind of braces Jerome Kiesewetter has been scoring, either. Think Forrest Gump as a boy. Think Forrest Gump as a boy with no Jenny telling him to "Run, Forrest, run!"
What would that movie have been without the scene of metal metamorphosis, the braces falling away from Forrest's legs in slow-motion as he ran from his tormentors?
Well, it would have been Locomotive's 1-1 draw against Portland Timbers 2 on a sluggish, sopping Saturday night in Portland, OR.
And it would still have been a triumph.
Kiesewetter was starved of service, barely seen. Omar Salgado was on an island out on the wing. Locomotive's vaunted defense was challenged, hemorrhaging yellow cards and fouls around its area despite having an overwhelming 65 percent of the possession.
But it wasn't overwhelming for the host Timbers 2. At times, Locomotive FC appeared to be its own worst enemy.
In the 41st minute, it was.
T2 forward Foster Langsdorf jumped on a poor clearance in the top right corner of the El Paso area and was taken down by right back Bryam Rebellón.
The Colombian protested that he was tripped up by Langsdorf but had run into him from behind having never touched the ball. Referee Elijio Arreguín pointed straight to the spot.
Rebellón's countryman, Dairón Asprilla, took the resulting penalty. Locomotive keeper Logan Ketterer guessed correctly, diving to his right to stop the shot, but the rebound came straight to Asprilla who deposited the ball into the goal to give the hosts the lead.
El Paso had dominated possession, created more, done more; but Timbers 2 led, 1-0.
Here's where the sport tests a team's love for it. Fans, too.
At Locomotive FC's viewing party at Union Drafthouse two screens of soccer sandwiched Game 6 of the NBA's Eastern Conference finals between Toronto and Milwaukee, and the Dodgers and Pirates.
While Locomotive lagged, the Raptors roared and the Dodgers dominated; two of America's "Big Four" sports taunting the would-be fifth, a second division grind in a figurative fog.
But Locomotive's supporter group, 8th Notch, sassed and sang with every foul and card that went against El Paso while curious patrons cocked their eyebrows and exchanged bemused glances, the other sports so a part of a Saturday night out on the town that they were barely acknowledged while soccer was serenaded.
And then Omar Salgado scored.
A goal that came from almost nothing. A stoppage time throw-in that midfield general Sebastián Contreras recognized as a T2 lapse. A quick ball to Salgado who neatly sidestepped defender Marco Farfán, who was late to the party and left keeper Kendall McIntosh stranded.
El Paso's first-ever number one draft pick in any sport, Salgado had returned to his hometown as Locomotive's target forward, the go-to man for goals. But Mark Lowry's scheme found a better fit for Salgado on the left wing, and he obliged. Then he was moved to right wing, and he obliged. Then came Kiesewetter – Salgado's former teammate on a number of US youth national teams – and El Paso had found its No. 9. Meanwhile, no matter where he was on the field Salgado could not find the back of the net.
With Locomotive FC starting its season the weekend after Mardi Gras, it seemed the Sun City's hometown hero had given up goals for a Lent that was stretching well past Easter.
Bring out the beef and liquor.
Salgado's finish from just inside the box was clinical, his goal deserved and he sprinted around the back of McIntosh's net in an odd dad-dance of a celebration and blew kisses to the Timbers fans booing him.
Uniforms and hair were stuck to the skin. The ball was stuck on Providence Park's new but soggy grass pitch. The score was stuck at 1-1.
But Timbers 2 was the home team, third in the Western Conference table to El Paso's seventh going into Saturday's game. The onus was on the hosts to get the full three points and Locomotive FC didn't give them the room to do so. El Paso now has results in six straight matches.
The phrase "It's a marathon, not a sprint," is grossly overused. But run 26 miles and see if you care who broke the tape at the finish line.