The five players with Las Vegas roots now signed to the club's preseason roster pose with the world famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The players are (left to right) Matt Thomas, Julian Portugal, Marco César Jaime Jr.,Sebastian Hernandez and Adol
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For Las Vegas Lights Football Club (FC), a cornerstone of the franchise’s local commitment is the annual guarantee of at least one roster spot reserved for a player with roots in the Las Vegas community.
As Lights FC prepares for its inaugural season as a member of the United Soccer League (USL), five players with those Las Vegas roots have been signed to the club’s preseason roster, and will compete to become members of the club’s first regular season roster.
The five players being signed to club contracts for the preseason are:
• Adolfo Guzman – Midfielder – 21 years old
• Sebastian Hernandez – Midfielder – 24 years old
• Marco César Jaime Jr. – Defender – 22 years old
• Julian Portugal – Midfielder – 25 years old
• Matt Thomas – Midfielder – 22 years old
“A key point of our Local Promise to the Las Vegas community is to offer a chance for the soccer talent in this city to be seen on the professional stage, no matter where in town that talent has been cultivated,” Lights FC Owner & CEO Brett Lashbrook said. “These five young men will have a chance to make their professional dreams come true in the city they call home. We are incredibly proud to be the first professional sports team to ever guarantee a roster spot every season to at least one – if not more – local player.”
“I want to make sure that this team smells like Las Vegas,” Lights FC head coach Chelís has now famously said. “This is a great opportunity, and a very unique opportunity in professional soccer.”
Adolfo Guzman was born and raised in Las Vegas, and in his prep career helped lead Southeast Career and Technical Academy (Tech) to a state championship. He attended Lights FC’s December open Player Combine along with 500-plus roster hopefuls after friends told him to check out the event and his hometown’s new club online.
“I was going to show Chelís I was worthy of being a professional player,” Guzman said. “I feel motivated to play near my family, inspire others and work hard to get to the top in my hometown.”
Sebastian Hernandez moved to Las Vegas with his family at six years old and has called the city his home ever since. Following a decorated prep career as a four-year starter at Bonanza High, including All-America honors, he starred at UNLV and helped the Rebels win a conference championship. His early pro ventures have taken him to Portland, Ore., Germany and France.
“I always just wanted to get my foot in the door anywhere as a professional,” Hernandez said. “I didn’t care where I ended up. Being at home and signing a professional contract here is everything.”
At just 22 years old, Marco Jaime already has a wealth of professional experience, having signed with Liga MX club Deportivo Toluca at age 15 and has grown ever since. Jaime debuted in the first division two years ago at age 20, and was also named to the Mexican National Team’s preliminary pool roster for the 2015 Under-20 FIFA World Cup. He was born in Las Vegas and lived here until he was six before moving with his family to Mexico. With extended family still living in Las Vegas, he’s always had the goal of returning to his birthplace.
“It’s an opportunity to have a better quality of life while still playing professionally,” Jaime said. “I have always wanted to come back. I want to establish myself and make people know my name.”
Julian Portugal moved to Las Vegas at 10 years old after being born in Mexico City. He returned to Mexico at 15, but returned at 18 to play his senior year of high school soccer at Palo Verde, then was a standout at UNLV for four years. As a professional, he previously played for the USL’s Tulsa Roughnecks.
“This is where I started playing soccer,” Portugal said. “I went through the rec system, organized club soccer, high school and UNLV. To now represent Vegas soccer at the pro level is really cool.”
Matt Thomas is also born and raised in Las Vegas, where he graduated from Palo Verde High. During his teenage years, he also spent time with Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake as a member of its prestigious academy residency program based in Casa Grande, Ariz. The program competes in the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Development Academy and has featured multiple current MLS players. An aggressive midfielder, Thomas sees an opportunity to fit into Chelís’s vision of an aggressive, attacking team taking the pitch at Cashman Field.
“I like to think that I don’t stop running,” Thomas said. “I’m a workhorse. I like out-running players, playing a straightforward game.”
These five players are part of Lights FC training camp, which is already underway in preparation for the club's Soccer Spring Training schedule, featuring 3 Major League Soccer (MLS) clubs coming to Cashman Field on consecutive Saturdays in February. That schedule begins Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. with Montreal Impact visiting Las Vegas for the first match in Lights FC club history.
Single game tickets for Lights FC's first four home matches - the three Soccer Spring Training MLS preseason contests and the March 24th USL regular season home opener - are now on sale, starting at just $15. Single game tickets can be purchased by visiting LightsFC.com/SingleTix, or by calling 702.728.GOAL (4625) during regular business hours.
Lights FC 2018 season tickets are also still on sale, and start at just $200, with each season ticket purchased including a free team jersey (valued at $80). Ticket for groups of 10 or more are also now on sale, starting at just $18 per ticket, with each ticket purchased including a free Lights FC scarf (valued at $20). For more ticketing inquiries, visit LightsFC.com/Tickets.