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The first of three meetings this season with Phoenix Rising FC should give Las Vegas Lights FC plenty of fuel for when the two clubs meet twice in Las Vegas later this season.
In its first trip to face Rising FC on its home turf, Lights FC was sent back home on the wrong side of a 4-0 decision Wednesday night in Tempe, Ariz.
A positive, though, as Lights FC (3-5-4, 13 points) heads home is that it will get a chance just 72 hours later to get the bad taste out of its mouth. Saturday night at 8 p.m., Seattle Sounders 2 (3-7-2, 11 points) comes to town for the club's final home match of June. Tickets for Saturday night's match start at just $15 at LightsFC.com.
"Games are always opportunities," Lights FC Technical Director Chelís said. "If we are in this situation, we can get out of this situation."
Things looked promising in the opening minutes, as Lights FC and Rising FC (8-3-4, 28 points) felt each other out, with the visitors creating a few rhythmic offensive chances.
Lights FC's best early chance came in the sixth minute, when forward Sammy Ochoa sent off a booming strike from about 20 yards out. But the shot sailed just wide to the left of goal. Overall, things started to take a turn south about 20 minutes later.
In the 25th minute, while reaching for a ball coming through the box, midfielder Matt Thomas went down with a lower body injury, which forced Lights FC to use its first substitution on a hot night in Arizona earlier than expected.
It was in the 32nd minute when Rising FC would be the first to break through, as Jason Johnson had an impressive coast-to-coast effort to set up a look in close against Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño.
Ferriño, however, would make a couple more crucial saves before the half to help keep his club in range, despite being out-shot in the first half, 11-5.
Phoenix kept its momentum and its foot on the gas after coming out of the locker room for the second half, and the aggression paid off.
Following a Joel Huiqui yellow card, Phoenix made it a 2-0 match in the 52nd minute, when Joseph Farrell headed in a free kick from captain Solomon Asante.
A back-breaking third goal came in the form of Johnson's second score of the match in the 78th minute, and the fourth came in added time late via an Asante penalty kick.
While Phoenix had four goals to show from its 24 shots, Lights FC came up empty-handed off of its 17, including some tough near-misses. Two of those belonged to Carlos Alvarez, who in each half was mere inches from notching his fifth goal of 2018. Phoenix's ability to set up more chances was also a result of the home squad winning 65 of 92 duels on the night.
"They were superior in everything," Chelís said. "A team that loses 70% of the duels (in a match) can't compete in any league."
Heading home, the toughest note on the final box score for Lights FC was Ferriño drawing his fifth yellow card of the season late in the match, meaning someone other than him will start in goal Saturday night while he serves an automatic 1-match accumulation suspension.
Despite everything, the goal Saturday night is to wipe the slate clean mentally, and attempt to repeat its performance from the last home match at Cashman Field, which saw Lights FC dominate Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 4-1, on June 2, earning a huge three points on the USL Western Conference table.
Saturday's festivities start at 5:30 p.m., with the Zappos Tailgate taking place just outside of the Zappos Gate at Cashman Field. All dads in attendance will receive a free beer at the Zappos Tailgate on the eve of Father's Day. Also, after the match, dads are invited to go kick the ball around with their kids on the field to help make Saturday a memorable night in Downtown Las Vegas.
Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño makes a sliding stop during the first half of a 4-0 defeat on the road at Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (PHOTO: Phoenix Rising FC)