LAS VEGAS, NV - In front of a crowd of 8,017 fans in Cashman Field, Lights FC kicked off the 2019 season with a scoreless draw against a rugged Austin Bold FC squad that wanted to avoid at all costs a loss in their USL Championship debut.
Eric Wynalda's side was the one that pushed forward in the match, with Cristhian "Tripa" Hernandez generating great opportunities off of 3 free kicks in the first half that were shots on goal, but Diego Restrepo showed that his level has not diminished since being named USL's goalkeeper of the year back in 2017 and blocked each shot, including one he deflected onto the crossbar and out of the pitch.
Bold FC had one play in which they threatened to open up the score in the first 45, with Amobi Okugo's strike in the 31st minute going in between Thomas Olsen's legs, but the Las Vegas native & Bishop Gorman graduate ended up with the save on his back.
8,017 fans attended the first regular season debut of "Lights 2.0" at Cashman Field.
In the first 3 minutes of the second half, Lights FC put the ball in the back of the net twice, but both times the goals were waived off. First with an offsides call on Irvin Parra and afterwards with Gabe Robinson's throw-in not being touched before going into the goal.
Gabe Robinson provided another important opportunity thanks to his height, with his header off of a Pablo Cruz free kick going over the crossbar.
Las Vegas out-shot Austin 18-8, but both teams ended up adding a point in their first match of the 2019 campaign off of the no score draw.
"It was a really complicated game for them", said Lights FC forward Irvin Parra. "We dominated the whole game, they came with a game plan to just sit back and wait for a mistake from us, but we're very good in our back line and didn't make mistakes. We're learning, there's positivity in this game and I'm looking forward for the next game".
Eric Wynalda's first game coaching in the USL Championship didn't end the way he had wished for with the tie, but he feels that this is a learning experience. "We are disapointed", said the 3-time World Cup veteran with the US Men's National team. "All in all, this is kind of something that we will turn into a positive, that we understand we gotta be better in front of the goal, gotta create more chances and get a win next time".
Christian Torres' improvement continues with his new position in the midfield, generating offensive opportunities for Las Vegas.
Playing with 8,017 fans in the stands made the members of 'Lights 2.0' know that their decision to join Las Vegas was the right one. "It feels fantastic, this is the right place to be", said striker Irvin Parra. "Great support, great atmosphere. Our fans are fantastic, people in Las Vegas treat us very well, they really like this team and we're going to try to give them the playoff push they deserve".
Las Vegas will now take the show on the road for their next 2 games, visiting OKC Energy on March 16 at 5:30 p.m. and Portland Timbers 2 on March 23 at 7:00 p.m.
Lights FC returns to Cashman Field on Saturday, March 30 when they host Real Monarchs SLC at 7:30 p.m. on "Salute to Golden Knights Night", with the team wearing commemorative VGK inspired jerseys. Tickets for this game and all Lights FC 2019 regular season home matches can be purchased at LightsFC.com/Tix or at any La Bonita Supermarket in Las Vegas.