Gabe Robinson became the first Lights FC player in the 2019 season to be selected to USL Championship's team of the week after his performance against Real Monarchs SLC in week 4.
Las Vegas, NV – Before returning to Cashman Field where they'll have back to back home games for the first time in the 2019 season, Lights FC will face a rough road test as they take on LA Galaxy II at the Track & Field Stadium; part of the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
With their next game being on Monday, Las Vegas will have an extra day of preparation than the usual six days in-between games. "We’ll take advantage of this extended week, we're utilizing it to do some physical testing," stated Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "Considering we have an extra day of preparation, we’re going to utilize it to challenge our players physically as we did at the beginning of the preseason".
Lights FC has been a force to be reckoned with at home, where they haven't trailed a single minute in USL Championship action. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case on the road, as the team hasn't been able to take the lead in any of their four matches outside of Las Vegas so far. "You learn a lot about your team the way you perform on the road and clearly we've had our issues," stated Wynalda. "Our defensive woes on the road are what's really killing us. Some of the goals that we’re conceding are just mental mistakes. But the reality is that we have a lot of things to fix, I think it's a big part of the mentality of this group to understand that there's a long way to go and a lot of learning to happen."
Forward Sammy Ochoa has returned from offseason surgery to repair an upper-body injury he played through in the 2018 season and he's making the most of the time of play he's receiving. Sammy has been subbed in on the last two Lights FC matches, scoring his first goal of the year against RGV FC Toros last Saturday. "Being able to come in and score helps me and my morale,'' said Ochoa. "I'm going to continue being prepared for whenever coach Wynalda tells me to go back in. We have an intense battle in the striker position with very good guys that are scoring goals, I'm here to fight for a spot and if I'm needed off the bench, then I'll do it with the best attitude for when my number is called".
Mobi Fehr quickly earned the confidence of head coach Eric Wynalda, who has included him on the team's Starting XI since he signed his contract with Lights FC.
MONDAY’S OPPONENT: L.A. GALAXY II
After having ten days off from April 14 through April 23, L.A. Galaxy II's match against Lights FC will be their second game in six days after an exhilarating 4-4 draw at home versus RGV FC Toros on Wednesday, April 24.
This will be the second match of a four-game homestand for Galaxy II, who has been a strong team while playing at Dignity Health Sports Park's Track & Field Stadium. After losing their season opener at home against Colorado Springs, Los Angeles has a streak of three games without being defeated on their pitch with two wins and a tie.
Mike Muñoz is in his second season as the head coach of Galaxy II, where he has a balanced attack with Kai Koreniuk featured as their leading scorer with four goals, but followed by four players that have each found the back of the net twice in 2019: Geoffrey Acheampong and Augustine Williams, plus MLS Galaxy roster members Ethan Zubak and Tomas Hilliard-Arce.
The most used goalkeeper by Galaxy II is Justin Vom Steeg, third goalkeeper of their parent MLS Club L.A. Galaxy. In 4 matches, Vom Steeg has one clean sheet but has allowed at least a pair of goals in the other three. Los Angeles started Abraham Romero in their last match, where he was scored on four times against RGV FC to bring his season total up to nine goals conceded.
Christian Torres scored his first regular season goal with Lights FC on the road against RGV FC Toros.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Less than a week after being transferred from Memphis 901 FC to Lights FC, midfielder Junior Sandoval made his debut with Las Vegas as part of the team's Starting XI at RGV FC where he played the full match.
"Junior is a player that understands multiple positions, he’s a great asset to us because you can throw him in anywhere," said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "I have no concerns with him, he fits right in and it's like he’s been here for a long time."
Sandoval became the third Honduran in history to play in the Colombian top flight when he was part of Jaguares de Córdoba. He had a stint with 9-time Honduras title holders C.D. Marathón, where he had the opportunity to play in the CONCACAF Champions League against MLS opponent Seattle Sounders.
Ochoa made his 2019 debut on April 13 against Tacoma Defiance, playing 20 minutes as a substitute. This marked his first game in 6 months after he required offseason surgery for an upper-body injury he played through in the 2018 season.
Sammy received another opportunity to get on the pitch against RGV FC on the road, where despite only playing 5 minutes he scored with a header off of a Cristhian Hernandez free kick. This was his 43rd goal in the league, ninth with Las Vegas.
His versatility to play as a left back and as a midfielder is one that Eric Wynalda has taken advantage of by using Torres as a starter in each of Lights FC's 7 regular season games.
The Tijuana, Mexico native scored his first USL Championship goal versus RGV FC Toros in a match where he had a total of five shots, three of which were shots on goal.
A total of six Lights FC players have been in the team's starting lineup for every USL Championship game in the 2019 season: Thomas Olsen, Kevin Garcia Lopez, Gabe Robinson, Javan Torre, Christian Torres, and Irvin Parra.
Only three of them have been on the pitch for every minute the team has played: Thomas Olsen, Gabe Robinson, and Kevin Garcia-Lopez.
THOMAS "TKO" OLSEN
Las Vegas native Thomas Olsen has already matched the number of clean sheets that Lights FC had in their full 34-game inaugural 2018 campaign by not allowing goals against Austin Bold FC, Real Monarchs SLC, and Tacoma Defiance.
'TKO' is tied for second best in USL Championship with 3 clean sheets, while he's eight best in the league with a total of 18 saves.
The Bishop Gorman grad has an active streak of 317 minutes without allowing a goal at Cashman Field (going back to Lights FC's home finale in 2018 against Phoenix Rising FC).
Irvin leads USL Championship with 24 shots taken, and he's tied for the eight best in the league with 4 goals scored.
Parra scored the second hat trick in Lights FC history by sending the ball to the back of the net three times against Tacoma Defiance on April 13, 2019.
In 2017 Parra became the first player in USL Championship history to finish a season with a "double-double", as he scored 11 goals and recorded 10 assists when he split time between Seattle Sounders 2 and Orange County SC.
Lights FC added 2 players to its roster this week by welcoming defender Jonathan Levin and midfielder Victor Rojas.
Levin arrives to Las Vegas with USL Championship experience after being a part of the Tulsa Roughnecks the past two seasons, where he played in the Western Conference Quarterfinals in 2017. He can play as a center back or as a holding midfielder.
Rojas becomes the first Venezuela native in Lights FC history. The offensive-minded midfielder played in Europe for UD Sampedrense and Nogueirense in Portugal.
Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN TO LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC @ LA GALAXY II:
Las Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow along every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets.
Monday's game (7:30 p.m. kickoff) will be streamed nationwide on ESPN+, while the Spanish-language radio broadcast can be heard locally on ESPN Deportes 1460 AM & online on LVSportsNetwork.com, with Alvaro Puentes & Alejandro Romo on the call.