Javan Torre is coming off of one of his best performances in the 2019 season, scoring a goal of the week contender against New Mexico and earning a spot in USL Championship's Team of the Week.
Las Vegas, NV – After a dominant 5-1 victory over New Mexico United, who entered the game as USL Championship's Western Conference leaders, Lights FC goes back on the road to face one of the hottest teams in the league: El Paso Locomotive FC. Kickoff is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. PT this Saturday at Southwest University Park in Downtown El Paso.
"This is a difficult team to play against," said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "El Paso has conceded the least amount of goals next to Sacramento, but we were able to find the back of the net against Republic FC and they were a very solid defensive team, and they still are. So the better the opponent, the better we play."
The offensive explosion against New Mexico has lifted the confidence of Las Vegas, with every score coming from a different player. This marked the fourth time in the 2019 season that Lights FC put the ball in the back of the net 3 or more times in a game.
“It always feels good when you score a lot of goals in a match. We played well last weekend, I’m happy that we got the win," stated Las Vegas midfielder Pablo Cruz. "From the beginning of the season, I knew personally that our team is capable of doing great things and now we’re going to El Paso trying to get a win, chasing 3 points right there.”
Now Lights FC will try to take that positive momentum for their road affair to Southwest University Park, where teams like Phoenix Rising and OKC Energy have been able to get wins, while New Mexico and the RGV Toros returned home with a point after drawing with Locomotive FC.
"There are things we’ve learned along the way and we’re becoming a better team," said Wynalda. "Playing on the road has been our biggest problem but I think this will be our first time where we go on the road with confidence. As long as we execute our game plan and don’t shoot ourselves in the foot again, we can get some points.”
After kicking off their inaugural season with one win, two draws and two defeats in their first five games, El Paso has gone on a nine-match undefeated streak, including three consecutive victories that have propelled Locomotive FC to second place in the Western Conference with 26 points.
Mark Lowry was appointed manager and technical director of El Paso Locomotive FC on July 25, 2018, after leading NASL's Jacksonville Armada for 2 years.
Locomotive FC features former U.S. National team member Jerome Kiesewetter, the USL Championship player of the month in May and who is currently tied for the league lead in goals with 10. Former Lights FC midfielder Omar Salgado has started each match for his hometown team this season, scoring 2 goals and delivering 4 assists in 14 games.
Logan Ketterer has starred as El Paso's starting goalkeeper, racking up seven clean sheets. He has only conceded 12 goals in 14 games, which make Locomotive FC the Western Conference team that has been scored on the least in the 2019 season.
Lights FC's defensive line has been solid since the arrival of Canadian National Team member and MLS veteran Dejan Jakovic.
A dry spell saw Lights FC score only one goal in a four-match span from May 18 through June 8. But it was when Lights FC hosted New Mexico United and put the ball past goalkeeper Cody Mizell 5 times, running up Las Vegas goal count in the 2019 season to 24.
While featured mostly as a center back, Torre has had the liberty to be a winger since Dejan Jakovic's arrival to Las Vegas. Javan now has been able to cross midfield with more consistency, opening more opportunities to take advantage of his powerful shots. His performance against New Mexico earned him a spot on USL Championship's Team of the Week, he opened the score in that match with a left-footed strike that was nominated for USL Championship Goal of the Week.
The Cameroon national displayed his speed and skill in the second half against New Mexico, where he took advantage of a turnover in the center of the field and ran past 3 opponents to take a shot right outside the box that extended Lights FC's lead to 3-0 with his third goal this season.
Junior Sandoval keeps showing that he's a difference maker in Lights FC's roster. The Honduras native was subbed into the New Mexico game in the second half and sealed the victory for Las Vegas with an assist in the 90th minute and a goal in the 94th.
Injuries have limited his time on the pitch for Lights FC, but when he's on it Edwin Rivas has shown why Eric Wynalda selected him to his team. Rivas scored a brace against Toronto FC in Soccer Spring Training against MLS side Toronto FC and he also found the back of the net against Orange County FC in US Open Cup action. His first regular-season score with Las Vegas arrived versus New Mexico and he's poised to continue contributing offensively.
The Las Vegas-born & raised goalkeeper is third-best in USL Championship's Western Conference with six clean sheets, which is two more than the number of times Lights FC shutout their opponents in a total of 38 games in 2018. His 38 saves have 'TKO' tied for fourth-best in the conference.
Having 41 caps with the Canadian National Team and more than 100 Major League Soccer appearances, Dejan Jakovic brings experience and leadership to Lights FC's defensive line. He arrived in Las Vegas via a loan from MLS side Los Angeles FC (LAFC).
Dejan made his debut with Lights FC on June 8 against Orange County SC, 2 days after joining the team's practice sessions. Jakovic has been a starter and played the full 90 minutes in both matches he has played for Las Vegas.
Irvin Parra - OUT - Suspension
Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury
In the final four minutes of the game against New Mexico United, Lights FC midfielder Junior Sandoval added a goal and an assist to seal the Las Vegas victory by a score of 5-1.
Las Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow along every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets.
Saturday's game (6:30 p.m. kickoff) will be broadcasted locally on The CW Las Vegas with BetCast being broadcast 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, plus Lights FC on-field hype-man and local radio personality Bojo Ackah.