Either as a starter or a sub, Cristhian "Tripa" Hernandez has delivered for Lights FC by being an energy boost for the team's midfield.
Las Vegas, NV – After getting two wins and a loss over the last week, Lights FC got a full week of preparation ahead of another 8-day span in which they'll play three matches, kicking off with a home game against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday, May, 25.
“I think that they’re a more balanced team than just putting them in the category of a team that’s good on set pieces, where they’ve been successful with their center back Luca Lobo,” said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. “They move the ball well, they have some very authentic guys. They're big, strong, physical and they're capable of playing the game at a very high level. They have given other teams fits, we've been very impressed with the style of football that they play. It should be a great game!”
Las Vegas saw their four-match undefeated streak snapped with a 4-0 defeat in a road challenge against the defending Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising FC. Now Lights FC will return home where they've been dominant in 2019, with an undefeated record at Cashman Field that includes winning their last five matches in all official competitions by a combined score of 15-2.
“Our fans, who have got to enjoy some victories, we need you now to come in big numbers, fill this place up to help us get past a very tough opponent,” stated Wynalda. “The louder our fans get the better we play, that has always been the case. They've pushed us through bad moments and made us better, we’re hoping for a full house”.
Lights FC's roster features two former Roughnecks players in Sammy Ochoa and Jonathan Levin. Ochoa scored 20 goals and had 9 assists in 54 games he played for Tulsa between the 2015 & 2016 seasons. Levin played the last two years with the Roughnecks, including being a part of the team's Starting XI during their first and only playoff game back in 2017.
“It’s polar opposites," said Jonathan Levin about the differences between Las Vegas and Tulsa. "Over there, they don’t have sellouts. The fans here are hardcore, they’re always supporting the team. It’s very motivating going out for warmups and having fans cheering you on with a smile on their face. They’re here to have fun and we want to give them a win in every game".
Honduran midfielder Junior Sandoval has been a starter in every USL Championship game Lights FC has played since he joined the Las Vegas roster.
SATURDAY’S OPPONENT: TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC
Tulsa arrives with a four-game undefeated streak, including draws in their last three matches.
Michael Nsien received the vote of confidence from the Roughnecks front office when he was appointed the interim head coach when the team was winless midway through the 2018 season. Despite finishing last place in USL Championship's Western Conference, Nsien was announced as the team's permanent manager in December 2018. Since then, he has surpassed the number of wins the team had last season and is four points away from matching the 21 points the team earned last year.
Brazilian defender Luca Lobo is Tulsa's leading scorer with 7 goals, all of them off of set pieces where they've taken advantage of his height (6'5"). Undisputed Roughnecks FC starters Rodrigo Da Costa and Janu Silva have four goals each, while Christian Altamirano has found the back of the net three times.
Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar, on loan from MLS side Orlando City SC, took over the starting position after Sean Lewis suffered a quad injury 4 games into the season. Stajduhar has 23 saves and has conceded 12 goals in the 7 matches he has played with Tulsa.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY’S MATCH:
Lights FC didn’t get their fourth league win at home until their ninth match at Cashman Field in 2018, this year it only took them 5 games to get to that mark. Las Vegas surpassed their longest undefeated streak at Cashman Field from their inaugural year with 5 consecutive games without losing at home in the 2019 USL Championship season.
Las Vegas is one of six Western Conference teams in USL Championship 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).
SHORT WEEK WITH US OPEN CUP
For the second time in three weeks, Las Vegas will play 3 games in an 8-day span. After hosting Tulsa on Saturday May 25, Lights FC will return to US Open Cup action by taking on NPSL squad Orange County FC in the Third Round on Wednesday, May 29 at Cashman Field. The winner of this match will earn a shot against an MLS team in the Fourth Round.
Closing out the week will be the first round of the Silver State Cup by visiting in-state rival Reno 1868 FC.
THOMAS "TKO" OLSEN
The Las Vegas-born & raised goalkeeper is tied for third-best in USL Championship 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. 'TKO' hasn't allowed a goal in four of the five regular season matches that Las Vegas has hosted in the 2019 season.
IRVIN RAUL PARRA
He’s Lights FC leading scorer with 7 goals, which is tied for third-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 three players in the league that has at least 7 goals AND 3 or more assists. Irvin Raul also leads USL Championship with a total of 42 shots taken, Brian Brown from Reno 1868 FC is second place with 34 shots.
Four Lights FC players have been in the team’s starting lineup for every USL Championship game in the 2019 season: Thomas Olsen, Gabe Robinson, Javan Torre, and Irvin Parra. Out of them, only Olsen and Robinson have been on the pitch for every minute the team has played.
Gabe Robinson - QUESTIONABLE - Lower Body Injury
Lucas Scaglia - QUESTIONABLE - Upper Body Injury
Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury
HERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW AHEAD OF SATURDAY'S MATCH VS. TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC:
Saturday’s match kicks off at 7:30 p.m., start time for all Lights FC home regular season matches in 2019. For on-site ticket purchase at Cashman Field, both the box office and will call open at 2:00 p.m. on gameday. Tickets are available at LightsFC.com/Tix and at every La Bonita Supermarket in Las Vegas.
** Saturday's Zappos Tailgate Party, beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Cashman Field plaza, will feature beer specials, tailgate games for adults and kids, music, the Zappos llamas Dottie and Dollie, Lights FC merchandise, and much more.
** As part of the team's first ever "Paws on the Pitch", presented by The Hydrant Club, Lights fans are encouraged to bring their canine friends and enjoy a pawfect view from the grass berm, a portion of the proceeds will benefit The Animal Foundation. Besides being able to watch Lights FC defend an undefeated record at Cashman Field; there will be pet-friendly access to special seating areas, a pre-game PAWrade, in-game voting on Best Dressed Pup, fur friendly prizes, a halftime obstacle course competition and a postgame doggie vs doggie soccer match on the pitch.
** The party doesn't stop at the end of the action on the pitch. After every Lights FC home match, Two Roots Brewing and Zappos will host the "Happier Hour" post-game party at Cashman Field's Club Level Restaurant. Team players and manager Eric Wynalda will make an appearance at the party that is open to fans of all ages that are in attendance at Cashman Field.
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN TO LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC VS. TULSA ROUGHNECKS FC:
Las Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow-up along with every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets.
Saturday's game (7:30 p.m. kickoff) will be aired locally on MyLVTV with broadcasters Jeff Radcliffe and Devon Kerr announcing the action.
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.