Republic FC’s 2019 USL Championship campaign came to a close on Saturday night following a 3-0 result to El Paso Locomotive FC at Southwest University Park.
Simon Elliott’s men created plenty of goalscoring opportunities but a pair of crucial second half saves by the hosts was enough to halt Sacramento’s quest for Championship Cup glory.
El Paso broke the deadlock in the 40th minute when former Republic FC defender James Kiffe whipped in a left-footed cross from a dead ball free kick that Aaron Gomez headed towards the far post to lift Locomotive FC to a 1-0 lead.
The boys in Old Glory Red nearly found their equalizer in the 67th minute when Thomas Enevoldsen’s attempt narrowly sailed over the woodwork. Winger Villyan Bijev delivered a dangerous cross into the penalty area that bounced around before making its way to the Danish forward who fired his first touch just over the crossbar.
Moments later, a Drew Skundrich header was cleared off the goal-line by defender Andrew Fox. Bijev picked out Skundrich surging towards the far post and the former Stanford Cardinal put a powerful header on goal that drilled the El Paso defender in the forehead.
A diving fingertip save in the 80th minute by Locomotive FC goalkeeper Logan Ketterer prevented forward Cameron Iwasa from leveling the match. The Sacramento native rifled an attempt on target but Ketterer reacted quickly enough to deny the club’s all-time leading goalscorer his equalizer.
Three minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead when Sebastian Contreras converted from the penalty spot after forward Omar Salgado was taken down in the box.
The club from the Lone Star State put the match out of reach in the 88th minute when Sebastian Velasquez fired a left-footed shot by goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and into the back of the net to seal El Paso’s spot in the Western Conference Final against Real Monarchs next weekend.