The El Paso Patriots (3-2-2, 11 points) look to solidify their second place standing in the Mid-South Division, if not challenge for the lead, as they take on the West Texas Sockers (1-2-3, 6 points, T-5th) Saturday night at Patriot Stadium. It will be the last home game before a five-game road trip. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. MDT.
FLYING HIGHER: The Patriots are coming off their first three-goal performance of the Premier Development League season after a 3-0 win over the Texas Dutch Lions May 31st. After scoring only once in each of the team’s first five matches, head coach Hugo Samano’s 3-4-3 formation is finally paying off as a number of newcomers have settled into the PDL’s more physical style of play.
A three-man backline can be challenging defensively, but yields increased possession in the middle and up top, especially for a team like El Paso with more technical players capable of holding the ball.
Add in the solid goalkeeping supplied by the University of New Mexico tandem of Las Cruces native Victor Rodriguez and Javier Lane, and the Patriots believe they’re putting things together to challenge for the division. Lane has two shutouts while Rodriguez earned his first clean sheet in the 3-0 win.
SOCKERS BACK FOR ROUND 3: The Patriots will play West Texas for the third time this season Saturday night. The teams started the season against one another in Midland – a 1-1 draw May 5th – while El Paso’s Ernesto Bolivar scored deep into stoppage time to foil the Sockers’ designs on getting a road point, giving the Patriots a 1-0 win in El Paso May 25th.
MULTI-GOAL MEN: In the midst of its goal-scoring drought, five different Patriots shared top-honors for goals scored – Sergio Villaseñor, Enrique Cervantes, Naoyas Aizawa, Michael Griego and Ernesto Bolivar each had one.
Bolivar was first to score more than once, earning his second goal in a 2-2 draw with New Orleans, followed by Villaseñor in the same game. Bolivar and Villaseñor scored their third, while Cervantes notched his second on a beautiful curving free kick in the 3-0 win over the Texas Dutch Lions.
ONE BEFORE THE ROAD: This will be the Patriots’ final game before a critical five-game road trip that will see El Paso visit every other team in the Mid-South Division, including a huge two-game series next weekend, Friday, June 15th, at division-leading Austin (4-1-2, 14 pts.) and Saturday, June 16th, at defending Mid-South champion and PDL runner-up, the Laredo Heat.
For game updates and scores, including in-game match reports from Saturday night’s home game, follow the El Paso Patriots on Twitter (http://twitter.com/elpasopatriots ).