EP Locomotive defender Macauley King and Oakland Roots forward Johnny Rodriguez.

November 11, 2021

Story and Photos by Ivan Chairez, Photo Editor

Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the heart to win was bigger for the Oakland Roots on Friday, November 5 . The Oakland Roots swept the EP Locomotive off their great plain in the 2021 Western Quarter Finals at Southwest University Park, ending a monumental season for EP Locomotive, which saw them win 25 undefeated matches at their home stadium, Southwest University Park.

Southwest University Park Scoreboard.

The Southwest University Park stadium located in downtown El Paso, Texas was packed with EP Locomotive fans. But from afar, a chant of “OAK-LAND ROOTS, OAK-LAND ROOTS!” could be heard from the corner of the stadium where dedicated Roots fans waved their flags with pride. The energy was strong and heavy, knowing that winning this match meant going to the semifinals.

Oakland Roots Fans cheering their team on.

The match was off to an intense start, from fans cheering and shouting their lungs out to the Oakland Roots almost scoring in the fourth minute: Johnny Rodriguez hit the ball towards the right corner of the goal post, almost going all the way in before being tipped away by  EP Locomotive goalkeeper Logan Ketterer. For 75 minutes of intense tooth-and-nail sweat and grit gameplay, both teams moved the ball from one side of the field to the other, both teams coming within inches of scoring.

Oakland Roots forward Johnny Rodrigues.

Oakland Roots goalkeeper Paul Angelo Blanchette catching a ball midair.

 At the height of the match, in the 76th minute, the Oakland Roots finally hit the game-winning point, bringing the score to 1-0. Oakland goalkeeper Paul Angelo Blanchette made the long kick towards midfield which found forward Jeremy Bokila, who sent the ball right through goalkeeper Logan Ketterer legs, putting the Roots in the lead–a devastating blow for the Locomotive.

EP Locomotive defender Mechack Jérôme devastated after Oakland Roots forward Jeremy Bokila scores.

Oakland Roots celebrating as the match comes to a close.

As Locomotive fans booed and bickered, Roots players gathered to congratulate each other on the goal. After that goal the next 14 minutes were crucial for both teams. The Oakland Roots played their hearts out trying to stop the Locomotive from bringing the match to a tie. In the end, the best team will prevail, and in this case the Oakland Roots will continue their fight towards the USL Championship.

Oakland Roots in the glow of another win.