Irvin Parra is tied for 3rd in USL Championship for most shots taken in the first 2 weeks of the season with 7. As a team, Lights FC is second in the league with a total of 34 shots.
Las Vegas, NV – On the pitch Lights FC played more superior than their first two opponents in 2019 USL Championship action, but they couldn't capitalize on it in the scoreboard. Now they’ll try to get their first regular season win of the year against one of only two teams they defeated away from home in 2018: Portland Timbers 2.
After opening the 2019 season out-shooting Austin Bold FC with 18 shots to their 8 and winning the possession battle by controlling the ball in 54.9% of the match, Lights FC was also better in shots and possession against Energy FC despite playing on the road. Las Vegas needs to find a way to take advantage of this when they face teams who focus on a defensive style of play.
“We have to change the way we play, we haven’t made it very easy on our forwards,'' said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda on getting his strikers more involved with the game plan. “We haven’t created enough quality chances for them and that has a lot to do with the opposition having enough time to get behind the ball, not enough space to go into, we relied a lot on set pieces”.
Las Vegas was able to score their first goal of the 2019 campaign off of a set piece. A corner kick executed by Pablo Cruz found a streaking Javan Torre, who ran from the penalty spot to the top of the 6-yard box from where he sent the ball to the back of the net with a vicious header. “We’ve worked on set pieces, it’s nice to see one come together. But we need to score a few more”, stated Torre.
Lights FC is second place in the league with a total of 34 shots taken, but they need to improve on the opportunities they generate in the final third of the pitch. “We could make the argument that we weren’t clinical enough in front of the goal, we did have opportunities to score,'' said Wynalda. “We are dealing with teams that like to play direct and they like to put a lot of numbers behind the ball, which means we have to play quicker”.
A header from Lights FC's defensive leader Javan Torre gave Las Vegas its first goal of the 2019 regular season.
SATURDAY’S OPPONENT : PORTLAND TIMBERS 2
Portland Timbers 2 is currently tied for second place in USL Championship’s Western Conference after kicking off their season with positive results on the road: 1-1 draw at Tulsa and a 3-1 victory at San Antonio.
This match will be the 2019 home opener for the USL affiliate of MLS side Portland Timbers. In their first season coached by Cameron Knowles, Timbers 2 qualified to the 2018 USL playoffs where they lost 3-0 in the quarterfinals against eventual Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising.
After a standout season with Timbers 2 in 2018, midfielder Marvin Loría got signed to an MLS contract by Portland and was loaned to T2 for the beginning of the 2019 campaign. The Costa Rica native is the team’s leading scorer with 2 goals, both coming against San Antonio FC in a performance that earned him a spot on the USL Championship team of the week for Week 2.
Mobi Fehr made his USL Championship debut in Lights FC's first road game of the year. The last 5 years he played professionally in Japan and Vietnam.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
The 6’2 defender has stood out as the leader of Lights FC’s back line and became the first goalscorer for Las Vegas in the 2019 USL Championship season with a header in the 58th minute of the team’s road match against OKC Energy FC.
Torre was selected with the 56th overall pick in the 2016 MLS Superdraft by Colorado Rapids after having a 4 year standout collegiate career at UCLA. After not signing with Colorado, he got his first big break in the professional ranks when he joined FSV Frankfurt for the 2017-2018 season in Germany, now he’s back in the country he represented in the youth level in prestigious competitions like the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the Toulon Tournament in France and the Concacaf U-20 Championship.
2 Lights FC players made their USL Championship debut after playing professionally in other countries. Midfielder Mobi Fehr (experience in Japan & Vietnam) and defender Miguel Palafox (experience in Liga MX & El Salvador). Both were part of the starting XI at OKC, with Fehr playing the whole game and Palafox being subbed out in the 73rd minute.
“I felt real good”, said Palafox. “I’ve been working real hard these months with the team and fortunately I got the opportunity and took advantage of it.'' The former Liga MX player had 2 tackles and 3 clearances in the left back position, while Fehr completed 85.7% of his 63 passes.
Lights FC Owner and CEO Brett Lashbrook made a commitment that the team would always have a local player on the roster. Of the 5 returnees from the inaugural season squad, 3 of them are born & raised in Las Vegas: Goalkeepers Thomas Olsen (Bishop Gorman) and Angel Alvarez (Rancho H.S.), plus midfielder Matt Thomas (Palo Verde H.S.).
Thomas was the Vegas native that saw most playing time last year as he was on the pitch for a total of 22 matches, in which he scored 3 goals including the first ever in franchise regular season history. Olsen has gotten the start in goal for the first 2 Lights FC 2019 USL Championship matches, achieving his first clean sheet as a professional on March 6 against Austin Bold FC.
Las Vegas led the league in a statistical department in 2018, but it wasn’t a flattering one: being issued a total of 105 cards (99 yellows & 6 reds). In a total of 23 games Lights FC was issued 3 or more cards, in 16 there were 4 or more.
That has quickly changed with Eric Wynalda at the helm, as the team only got two cautions against Austin Bold FC (Irvin Parra & Matt Thomas) and one against OKC Energy FC (Lucas Scaglia).
Only 6 teams in the Western Conference have less cards issued than Las Vegas: Swope Park, Sacramento, RGV, Reno, El Paso & Colorado Springs, all of them with 2 yellow cards each.
MLS SPRING TRAINING
When Major League Soccer Spring Training debuted in February 2018, Lights FC was defeated by all 3 MLS opponents they faced at Cashman Field: 2-0 vs Montreal Impact, 3-2 vs Vancouver Whitecaps and 4-2 vs DC United.
But in 2019 Las Vegas defended their home pitch, getting their first victory over a Major League Soccer team by trouncing 2017 MLS Cup champions Toronto FC by a score of 5-1. Following it up with a close matchup with Colorado Rapids that ended with a 2-2 draw, in which Lights FC was the clear aggressor by accumulating a total of 11 shots on goal.
Lights FC played a total of 8 preseason matches, with their undefeated record close to being a perfect one, as they won 7 of those games and their only draw came against Major League Soccer side Colorado Rapids 2-2. In these preparation games, Las Vegas outscored their opponents by an aggregate of 31 goals to 9.
UNITED NATIONS OF SOCCER
Jokingly, Eric Wynalda says that his team is the United Nations of Soccer because of the diversity that he has in his locker room. Players born in 6 different countries are a part of Lights FC’s roster, but a total of 12 nations are represented as there are players who have dual citizenship like Javan Torre (USA/Brazil), Edwin Rivas (USA/Guatemala), Pablo Cruz (USA/Honduras), Bryan Arguez (USA/Cuba) and Mobi Fehr (who actually has 3 nationalities as he was born in Manhattan, New York, but his mother is from Japan and his father is from Switzerland). The only continent not represented in Lights FC’s roster is Australia ... maybe coach Wynalda can scout talent “Down Under” for the team to complete the UNITED NATIONS OF SOCCER BINGO GAME.
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN TO LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC @ PORTLAND TIMBERS 2:
Las Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow-up along every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets.
Saturday's game (7:00 p.m. kickoff) will be broadcasted locally on MyLVTV with #BetCast eminating from the VSIN studios at the South Point Hotel & Casino. Lights FC Insider Harry Ruiz will handle play by play duties, accompanied by Matthew Holt providing the inside scoop about in-game betting.
The match will also be aired on ESPN+, while the Spanish-language radio broadcast with Alvaro Puentes & Alejandro Romo on the call can be listened at ESPN Deportes 1460 AM & online on LVSportsNetwork.com.