ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The crowd of 10,000 plus at Isotopes Park was ready to erupt to celebrate New Mexico United's first victory over rival El Paso Locomotive.
But in a second, the ball was in the net, Matt Bahner had his shirt off, and the referee had blown his whistle to signal the end of a 1-1 draw between the two USL Mountain Division counterparts to stun the home crowd.
Bahner, an El Paso reserve defenseman, poked home a loose ball in the box in the 97th minute to give Locomotive FC the draw and a road point over New Mexico, further illustrating the dominance that El Paso has over their rival.
After going winless in their first three meetings of the season, it seemed as if New Mexico United was finally going to get a victory over El Paso.
Amando Moreno gave the home the lead in the 33rd minute with a shot that went through the legs of Locomotive goalkeeper Logan Ketterer. And when Locomotive teen sensation Diego Luna was issued a red card in the 77th minute, many assumed El Paso to be dead in the water.
But El Paso kept the aggressor despite the disadvantage. Both Richie Ryan and Aaron Gomez hit the post in the closing moments to keep the pressure.
And when Locomotive FC was given a corner in the 97th, they finally broke through.
With Ketterer up in the box as an extra attacker, the El Paso goalkeeper actually got a touch on the ball to help deflect it to the left foot of Bahner. And Bahner gave it a great strike to salvage a draw in the midnight hour.
The point keeps Locomotive FC in first place overall in the USL standings, but taking away a victory from a heated rival cannot be overstated.
This team is for real.
Next Up: Saturday, August 21st vs. Rio Grande Valley Toros at Southwest University Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30.