LAS VEGAS, NV – In front of the largest crowd ever at Cashman Field for a USL Championship regular season match, Las Vegas Lights FC dropped the second match of the Silver State Cup rivalry against Reno 1868 FC by a score of 2-0.
"We didn't capitalize on our chances when we had them," said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "We had good goalkeeping, some last-ditch defending but to chase the game the way we had to was really hard on the boys."
After an equally matched initial 30 minutes, both teams had a pair of shots on target. Reno 1868 FC took the lead in the 35th minute. A streaking Duke Lacroix took advantage of a great pass from Lindo Mfeka to get into the box through the left flank, Lacroix served a cross to Corey Hertzog, but it was blocked by Javan Torre, who unfortunately put it in the back of the net for an own goal.
The visitors kicked off the second half aggressively trying to extend their lead, but Las Vegas born and raised goalkeeper Thomas Olsen was ready for the early barrage. Keeping Reno within one goal in what was a season-high performance for "TKO" with seven saves.
Irvin Raul Parra's scoring tally at Cashman Field was closed at 12, with him being the most productive player for Lights FC at home this season.
The best opportunities Las Vegas had to level the score arrived in a ten-minute span starting in the 56th minute with a shot from inside the box from Panzani Sousa that was stopped by Matt Bersano with a diving save. Reno's goalie had help in the next two chances, first a shot off of his right post by Bryan De La Fuente and afterward with a strike from Tabort Etaka Preston that went over the crossbar.
With 14 minutes left in regulation, second-half substitute Siad Haji took advantage of his speed and beat Lights FC defender Bryan De La Fuente in a race after a long pass from former UNLV Rebels player Kevin Partida. Haji ran past Thomas Olsen and with a very narrow-angle he was able to score his first goal of the season to put 1868 FC ahead 2-0. It was a heartbreaking loss for Las Vegas against a Reno side who jumped to second place with the win.
"They're a pretty good team. We knew how dangerous they are, how good they play," stated Lights FC captain Bryan De La Fuente. "But I think it's just those goals that we didn't score. I think we played well overall, we're just sad that we're walking out with a loss".
Tabort Etaka Preston led Lights FC with 3 shots on the night, his biggest chance in the match arrived in the 67th minute but his shot on a one-on-one opportunity went over the crossbar.
The 10,117 fans in attendance on Saturday night was the biggest regular season crowd in Lights FC history, only trailing the 10,387 that attended the first-ever match in team history on February 10, 2018 in a MLS Soccer Spring Training duel against Montreal Impact. A total of 146,121 fans entered Cashman Field throughout the year.
"I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. It was pretty remarkable to see that crowd," said Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen. "They showed up, the fans did their thing. Obviously, we're disappointed with how that went but thank you guys, I appreciate it."
"The hardest part is that we didn't deliver a win, but please continue to support. Keep believing in this club, keep believing in these players," stated Wynalda. "We are getting better and better everyday and we'll look back at this and say, 'remember when we suffered?'. Those are things that make us stronger and in the future, we'll remember these life lessons. We'll be a better team for this great city because they deserve better than what we are right now."
Lights FC will close their 2019 regular-season home on the road by visiting New Mexico United on Saturday, October 19 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.