UPDATE: The El Paso Locomotive's loud and proud fan group, the 8th Notch, will greet the team between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Sunday night at the West Side Soccer Complex, 6701 S. Desert Boulevard in Canutillo.
The team is coming off a heartbreaking loss in penalty kicks in the USL West finals to archrival Phoenix Rising.
ORIGINAL STORY: PHOENIX, Arizona - Saturday night was arguably the biggest match in the short, successful history of El Paso Locomotive FC. It was also the longest. And the most entertaining. And the most heartbreaking.
For the third week in a row, Locomotive FC's playoff fate was left up to penalty kicks. Except in Saturday's Western Conference Final against Phoenix Rising, they came up short.
El Paso fell 4-2 in PK's to Phoenix, ending their 2020 season.
120 minutes was not enough to decide the outcome, as both teams finished regulation in a 1-1 deadlock.
Phoenix's Jordan Schweitzer opened the scoring off a deflected shot from outside the box in the 18th minute. Schweitzer's teed up attempt was aided by some heavy top spin when it nicked Locomotive midfielder Richie Ryan's boot, and hit the crossbar before going in.
Locomotive equalized in the 2nd half off a one-time, left-footed screamer from Bryam Rebellon to knot the score at 1-1.
Locomotive FC nearly scored the go-ahead goal in regulation, when Dylan Mares was awarded a free kick from just outside the box in stoppage time. Mares' curling attempt hit the cross bar.
In extra time, Phoenix pushed the offensive, but El Paso goalkeeper Logan Ketterer made a number of clutch saves to send the match to penalties.
After both teams converted their opening attempt, El Paso's Nick Ross had his blocked by Phoenix goalkeeper Zack Lubin. It was the first missed penalty by Locomotive FC in 2020.
Phoenix continued to make their penalties, and when Josue Aaron Gomez slipped over the ball on El Paso's 4th attempt, Locomotive FC's season had run out.
Phoenix moves on to the USL League Championship, where they will play at Tampa Bay next Sunday on ESPN.
For El Paso, they will look ahead to 2021 as well as look back at all the accomplishments they made in 2021.
Locomotive FC is just third team in modern USL history to qualify for the Conference Finals in their first two years as a franchise.
They were the outright winners of USL Pool Group C, and did not have a single positive COVID-19 case on their team all season.