Lights FC is tied for the league lead with 65 shots taken four weeks into the 2019 season. Las Vegas forward Irvin Parra is second in USL Championship with a total of 14 shots.
Las Vegas, NV – After getting their first win of the season by defeating Real Monarchs SLC 1-0 at Cashman Field, Lights FC returns to the road to visit a solid San Antonio FC side who is win-less in the 2019 campaign.
Savor the victory is something Las Vegas definitely did when the referee blew the whistle to end the match last Saturday, being rewarded with 3 points for all the hard work they've put in since the beginning of preseason.
"We were clearly in a hole, I think the biggest concern coming into the game was the team lacked confidence and they really didn’t", said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "We had the majority of the possession, creating good chances and looking like the same team that they had in the previous games at times. It’s so important to get that first win, especially to do it here at home in front of our own fans. I know it meant a lot to the guys and just the reaction from the crowd was fantastic."
With his troops getting their first win out of the way, Wynalda's team immediately returned to work on the pitch to try and get their first positive result on the road at San Antonio. This match has the recipe to be a barn burner, pitting two of the three squads who are tied in the league lead for shots taken 4 weeks into the season with 65 each. Las Vegas is not deceived with their Texan opponent being in the cellar of the Western Conference.
"San Antonio is a very good team on all levels. They’re going to cause problems for anybody that they play against, and they’ve been unfortunate so far," Wynalda stated. "Looking at them now and looking at where they are in the table, that is not an indication to what kind of team they are, they’re very good".
Lights FC was able to get their first goal from a forward in the young season, with AlexNyarko Harlley knocking in a header from an Irvin Parra corner kick in Las Vegas' 1-0 win over Real Monarchs SLC. This was the team's third time putting the ball in the back of the net in 2019 USL Championship action, all off of set pieces with headers, none from the run of play. This is something that doesn't worry the Lights.
"We’re a team that plays very offensively. Yes, our goals have come from set pieces, but I don’t really care how we get them", said team captain Lucas Scaglia. "The good thing is that we continue having good opportunities to score and soon they'll come. This win serves as a confidence booster, we know this is just the beginning ... but it shows us that we're on the right path".
Defender Gabe Robinson was selected to USL Championship's team of the week after assisting Lights FC to their second straight home clean sheet.
SATURDAY’S OPPONENT : SAN ANTONIO FC
San Antonio FC is currently tied for last place in USL Championship’s Western Conference after kicking off their season with a 3-3 draw at home against the defending conference champion Phoenix Rising FC. Afterwards, they lost 3 consecutive games against Portland, Colorado Springs and Austin.
Coached by Darren Powell, first and only manager in team history, San Antonio FC has qualified to the playoffs once in their 3 years as a USL Championship franchise. In 2017 they advanced to the Conference Semifinals, while last season they missed out of a postseason spot by 3 points, finishing 9th place in the Western Conference.
After not making it to the playoffs last year, San Antonio FC cleaned house and only retained 5 players from the 2018 roster. One of them is their leader on the field, Ever Guzman who won the U-17 FIFA World Cup with Mexico in 2005. Guzman led San Antonio with 11 goals, despite missing 7 games in 2018.
Billy Forbes returned to the Texas side following a successful stint with Phoenix Rising FC last season. He was part of San Antonio FC's roster in 2017, finishing as their leading scorer with 10 goals.
Lights FC's defensive efforts has Las Vegas as one of only 4 teams in USL Championship's Western Conference with 2 shutouts in the 2019 season.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
The Valencia, California native was named to USL Championship's Team of the Week for his performance in Week 4 against Real Monarchs SLC, where he recorded 10 clearances and went 7 of 7 in duels.
In his first month as a professional soccer player, Gabe already scored his first goal, has helped his team to a pair of clean sheets and became the first Las Vegas Lights FC player in the 2019 season to be honored as part of the league's Team of the Week.
"I wasn’t expecting to get team of the week so soon. Eventually, I was hoping on getting it by the end of the season or something like that but I’m just shocked that I did get it so early", said Robinson about being honored by the league. "For me it means a lot because there’s a lot of people that have kind of pushed me away or haven’t believed in me, to be recognized by USL Championship means a lot to me."
While Robinson was voted as a starter for USL Championship's Team of the Week, Olsen was selected as a backup only behind the league's Player of the Week, Colorado Springs goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez.
TKO shutout his second consecutive opponent at Cashman Field, matching the number of clean sheets that Las Vegas had in their 17 regular season home matches during their inaugural season.
Olsen has an active streak of 227 minutes without allowing a goal at Cashman Field.
SUCCESS ON SET PIECES
Las Vegas has been able to take advantage of their set piece opportunities, scoring goals off of them in each of their last 3 games, 2 off of corner kicks and one from a free kick.
Despite the 3 goals Lights FC has scored so far being from set pieces, they've all been assisted or scored by different players.
Assists: Pablo Cruz, Cristhian Hernandez and Irvin Parra. Scored: Javan Torre, Gabe Robinson and AlexNyarko Harlley.
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.
Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury
Sammy Ochoa - OUT - Upper Body Injury
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN TO LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC @ SAN ANTONIO FC:
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 (5:30 p.m. kickoff) will be aired locally on MyLVTV with broadcasters Jeff Radcliffe and George Metellus on the call. The match will also be aired on ESPN+.
Alvaro Puentes & Alejandro Romo will be on the airwaves with the Spanish-language radio broadcast that can be listened at ESPN Deportes 1460 AM & online on LVSportsNetwork.com.