Pablo Cruz will face his former team, Cal FC. With them he had a historic run in the 2012 US Open Cup, defeating a USL Pro team & an MLS squad.
Las Vegas, NV – After taking care of business in league play with a 3-0 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Lights FC is now focused on their next task at hand with a quick turnaround battle at Cashman Field against Cal FC in Second Round action of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
It was meant to be for Las Vegas manager Eric Wynalda, who will face the team that he took all the way to the fourth round in a historic run back in the 2012 US Open Cup. He was the head coach for Cal FC when they defeated a pair of professional teams in the tournament 7 years ago, including MLS side Portland Timbers.
"We watched them play the other night against FC Mulhouse Portland and they're a very good team," stated Wynalda. "A few familiar faces in Danny Barrera and Richie Menjivar, who were part of the original project and bounced around and have done some great things in their career. But they're back, ironically, to play against us. So we're looking forward to the challenge but I think all in all it will be a good night".
Lights FC midfielder Pablo Cruz was part of that Cinderella run Cal FC had in 2012, which springboarded his career and allowed him to become a professional shortly afterward. Now he'll have the opportunity to play against his former team and start a run of his own with his new squad. "No doubt playing against them will be a very special moment for me", said Cruz. "In my opinion, the best thing about the Open Cup is that players get to expose themselves. They want to show that they're supposed to be at the top level as well".
In their inaugural year, Lights FC won their first ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup game by defeating FC Tucson 4-2 in the Second Round. But their elimination came a week later after losing 2-1 on the road against Golden State Force, who ended up earning $25,000 as the amateur team that progressed deepest in the competition.
Las Vegas has six players who can't play in the tournament this year due to them already playing in qualifying phases for other teams, including three former members of Cal FC: Cristhian Hernandez, Eric Gonzalez, and Irvin Raul Parra. Three more players are "Cup-Tied" and won't be able to suit up for Lights FC in the US Open Cup: Kevin Garcia Lopez, Gabe Robinson, and Bryan de la Fuente, who played for Cal United FC.
Mobi Fehr has become "Mr. Reliable" for Lights FC, being able to play in practically any position in the midfield or defense.
TUESDAY’S OPPONENT: CAL FC
Cal FC had to go through four qualifying phases to make it to the US Open Cup from September through April, including a match against Cal United that was required to be played twice after their game on November 18 was abandoned in the 89th minute due to weather conditions with the score being 2-2. They faced each other again on January 16 where they ended up tied 1-1 in overtime and Cal FC got the victory in a penalty shoot-out. Excluding their battle with Cal United, Cal FC has outscored their US Open Cup opponents by a total of 18 to 4.
Their latest match in the competition was a 5-1 victory in the First Round against FC Mulhouse Portland, where former Chicago Fire (MLS) forward Orr Barouch scored a hat-trick, while the duo of German Alfaro and Richie Menjivar found the back of the net once each.
Cal FC plays in UPSL Pro Premier's SoCal North Division, where they currently sit atop in the standings with 27 points after winning nine games out of their 10 games, their only loss coming against Futbol Club Santa Clarita (1-0). In league play, they've scored a total of 51 goals and have been scored on 11 times.
Cashman Field has quickly become one of the most difficult places to play in for visiting sides in USL Championship, with Lights FC having an undefeated record at home in 2019 by outscoring their opponents 13 to 2.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO TUESDAY’S MATCH:
Lights FC tied a franchise record fourth consecutive home win by beating Colorado Springs 3-0, Las Vegas is outscoring their opponents at Cashman Field 13-2 this season. The current five-game undefeated streak (including the season opener 0-0 draw against Austin Bold FC) is the longest in team history.
Las Vegas is one of six USL Championship teams that remain undefeated at home in 2019. Lights FC is tied with Austin Bold FC for the highest efficiency while playing at their stadium as both have a record of 4 wins, 1 draw and no losses (86.6% efficiency).
OPEN CUP ARRIVES AT CASHMAN FIELD
While sharing Cashman Field with the Las Vegas 51's AAA baseball team (now the Las Vegas Aviators), Lights FC needed at least 48 hours to transition the field from a baseball setup to a soccer pitch. This didn't allow Las Vegas to play their first ever US Open Cup match at Cashman and had to be played at UNLV's Peter Johann Memorial Field, where they beat FC Tucson 4-2 on May 16, 2018 (the 51's played a home game at Cashman Field on May 15).
With the Aviators now playing at the Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin, Lights FC doesn't have any scheduling issues and they'll be able to play any day at Cashman Field, which will host its first ever Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match on Tuesday, May 14.
Both offensively and defensively, Lights FC is taking care of business. Las Vegas is the team with most shots taken in USL Championship with a total of 175, sending 18 of them to the back of the net which has them as the sixth highest scoring offense in the league.
But defensively, Lights FC is tied for second in the league with a total of five clean sheets and have conceded a total of 14 goals, which is sixth best in the Western Conference.
THOMAS "TKO" OLSEN
The Las Vegas-born & raised goalkeeper had key saves against Switchbacks FC that contributed to the team getting the victory, including one early in the first half where the score was tied 0-0.
‘TKO’ is tied for second in the league with five clean sheets, which is one more than the number of times Lights FC shutout their opponents in a total of 38 games in 2018. His 24 total saves have him tied for eighth best in USL Championship.
IRVIN RAUL PARRA
For the second time this season, Parra scored multiple goals in a match to lead Lights FC to victory after he notched a brace versus Colorado Springs.
He’s Lights FC leading scorer with 7 goals, which is second best in USL Championship. Meanwhile, Parra is tied for the team lead with Cristhian “Tripa” Hernandez as both have 3 assists.
Parra is one of only two players in the league that has at least 7 goals AND 3 or more assists. Irvin Raul also leads the USL Championship with a total of 39 shots taken, Brian Brown from Reno 1868 FC is second place with 29 shots.
Kevin Garcia Lopez - OUT - Lower Body Injury
Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury
HERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW AHEAD OF TUESDAY'S MATCH VS. CAL FC:
Tuesday ’s match kicks off at 7:30 p.m., start time for all Lights FC home matches in 2019. For on-site ticket purchase at Cashman Field, both the box office and will call open at 4:00 p.m. on game day. Tickets are available at LightsFC.com/OpenCup and at every La Bonita Supermarket in Las Vegas.
Tickets are priced at only $10 with all seating for this game at Cashman Field being general admission. Those in attendance are encouraged to enjoy the game pitch-side, fans will be able to bring their own folding chairs or blankets inside the stadium to sit on the field.
Anyone that purchases a ticket will have access to a special FREE "As Easy As ABC Clinic" for kids ages 5-12, presented by ABC Hyundai. Members of Lights FC's roster will put the kids through drills from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE TO WATCH LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC VS. CAL FC:
Tuesday's game (7:30 p.m. kickoff) will be streamed exclusively on ESPN+, with broadcasters David Gass and Lori Lindsey announcing the action.
Lamar Hunt US Open Cup matches will stream exclusively on ESPN+, which signed a multi-year rights agreement with U.S. Soccer to broadcast every game of the tournament.