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HERRIMAN, Utah - Sometimes, a draw can feel a little bit like a win.
Earning one point on the table had a little bit of that feel Monday night for Las Vegas Lights FC, especially given the quick turnaround for the club against one of the top teams in the USL Western Conference, plus playing a large percentage of the match shorthanded.
All told, heading home after a 0-0 draw with Real Monarchs SLC didn't feel too bad.
"We got a red card really early, but the team really dug down," midfielder Carlos Alvarez said. "You saw the tightness, the brotherhood we really have on this team. We were not easy to break, and we got a point that we really had to work for. Getting a point on the road is huge."
The red card Alvarez referenced came in the 18th minute, when defender Marcelo Alatorre made a physical play from behind on Masta Kacher on an open break. It stopped a golden scoring opportunity for the hosts, but put Lights FC (2-1-3, 9 points) in a 10-on-11 situation for more than 75 minutes, including stoppage time at the end of both halves.
But coming off of the club's first USL regular season loss less than 72 hours earlier, and on the road in the grand opening of Zions Bank Stadium, Lights FC bit down and worked its way to a statement of a result.
"We are happy with the effort we gave," defender Miguel Garduño said. "That's the way the team has to keep working. We now know we can play against any kind of team. (Real Monarchs SLC) is a great team, and we are also a great team. We showed that we know how to defend with 10 players, and we showed that we know how to handle any situation during this season."
The effort was truly of the 'team' variety.
After Alatorre was sent off, it became difficult for Lights FC to mount much consistent offensive attack against Real Monarchs SLC (4-1-1, 13 points). That was especially true in the second half, as legs began to drain from the emphasis Lights FC had to place on defending its own half.
But still, everyone contributed, as the visitors won 60 of 105 duels (57.1%), and found ways to turn away what felt like free kick after free kick for the home club.
Also, recording his first clean sheet of the season was goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño, who had three saves on the night and was aggressive in protecting every inch of his station. After flying to Mexico following Friday's match for his wedding on Saturday, then re-joining the team in Utah on Sunday, Ferriño made two highlight-reel, diving stops. One came in the third minute on a straight-on strike from Sebastian Velasquez, the second in the 69th minute against a free kick from Charlie Adams.
On top of Ferriño's heroics and theatrics, several two-way players had to place heavy focus on the defensive end. That included Alvarez, who had a game-high six tackles to go with his team-high 50 touches.
For reference to show how much of the action Real Monarchs SLC controlled while on an 11-on-10 advantage, eight Monarchs players had more touches than Alvarez's 50.
The back line, meanwhile, played a controlled game amidst adversity, with both Garduño and captain Joel Huiqui avoiding yellow cards, as each player entered Monday's play with four this season - one away from a one-game accumulation suspension.
"For almost 80 minutes, we played short one man, and it was very hard" Garduño said. "They're a great team, they have great players. We were very organized, I think that helped us to know we couldn't make any mistakes. We were very careful with the fouls, and at the end, we almost scored."
The "almost" goal came in the 84th minute, on one of just a few clean chances Lights FC had all night, as the club was out-shot 15-6.
That was when midfielder Daigo Kobayashi charged at a ball just outside of the box on the right side and fired, trying to bend it inside the right post. It banked off of the post and across the goal, where forward Sammy Ochoa dove and headed the ball into the back of the net.
However, Ochoa was frustratingly ruled offsides, and Lights FC was left to grind and hang on for roughly 10 more minutes to board its bus back home with a point in tow.
Still, it was an overall positive swing in the right direction for Lights FC.
"Obviously, it was a short turnaround, but the guys recovered (from Friday) quick," Alvarez added. "We got some legs and we came over here, played our game and got the point. Every game is different, we focus on each game differently. At the end of the day, we need to forget about this game, focus differently and think about the next one."
The next game comes Saturday, when Lights FC returns for one of the season's most anticipated home dates at 8 p.m. at Cashman Field.
That's when Tulsa Roughnecks FC (0-3-2, 2 points) comes to town for a Cinco de Mayo soccer party. Saturday night will see the first 5,000 fans to arrive receive a free luchador wrestling mask, along with other planned festivities and promotions.
Tickets for Saturday's match are available at LightsFC.com/SingleTix, starting at just $15.
Lights FC defender Miguel Garduño (center) makes a play to break up a possession during the club's 0-0 draw on the road at Real Monarchs SLC on Monday, April 30, 2018. (PHOTO: Real Monarchs SLC)