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Brazilian connection fuels Memphis 901 FC past El Paso Locomotive

A stalemate looked like a certainty as the match ticked on between Memphis and El Paso. There were more yellow cards shown than shots on target in the second half between the two sides.

The offense had dried out but there were still two of the most in-form attackers on the pitch for Memphis. Marlon Santos, who scored earlier in the match, led a last-minute attack — sending a ball into the box after beating his defender. Nighte Pickering made the near post run but let the ball roll past him instead of attempting a shot, allowing Bruno Lapa to fire it into the back of the net.

During the five game unbeaten streak for Memphis in league play, Lapa and Marlon have combined for eight of the team’s 11 goals. Marlon also has racked up five assists, including his clutch one tonight.

The 2-1 victory puts Memphis into a playoff spot while the Locomotive remain at the bottom of the Western conference with the fewest points in the league.

There have been minimal changes to the starting lineup since late April for 901 FC and that continued Friday night. The only change from the draw against Monterey last weekend was AB Cissoko replacing Carson Vom Steeg in the back line.

Memphis had most of the chances to start, stretching the defense by getting the ball to either wing. Akeem Ward and Oscar Jiménez were key in distributing the ball from their fullback roles.

It took time for El Paso to climb into the game but they capitalized quickly once they started to maintain possession. They scored from their first shot on target in the 24th minute. A cross into the box was headed by Miles Lyons and deflected into the goal by Akeem Ward for an own-goal.

Memphis’ response came five minutes later from a corner. A precise cross by Jiménez found the unmarked Marlon who scored with a header of his own.

There were opportunities to retake the lead on both ends before the break. Tyler Deric was able to keep the game level with a crucial stop on a high-pace strike.

The second half was filled with whistles and possession resulting in few attacking efforts. El Paso, feeding off their home crowd, looked like the more threatening team.

Even though Memphis might have been content with a draw, they avoided making any crucial mistakes in their defense. They absorbed El Paso’s pressure well, staying composed before the late dramatics in the final minute.

Next Game

Memphis return to AutoZone Park after their successful road trip, hosting the Pittsburgh Riverhounds Saturday, May 25th at 7:30pm.

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