Lights FC forward Omar Salgado began training with the club following his arrival on loan from USL El Paso in June. (Maddie Dobbins / Lights FC)
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Long before Tuesday’s opening of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s summer transfer window, the trio of Rodrigo Iñigo, Daniel Guzmán Jr. and Omar Salgado began helping Las Vegas Lights FC.
Iñigo and Guzmán Jr. came to Las Vegas nearly two months ago, while Salgado joined about three weeks back. And though they couldn’t obtain eligibility to play for Lights FC until after the summer transfer window opened on July 10, they’ve been a part of the club every step of the way between match days.
“The first thing that these three guys did was wake everyone up and put a little extra motivation and pressure onto the players we already had,” Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez said. “If nobody is pressing you, you can get into a comfort zone.
“Now, they have learned a lot of things, and the players that have been playing know them. Even though they haven’t played, they have already put plenty into our team.”
This week, Lights FC (5-6-5, 20 points) embarks on its most important stretch of road matches to date in 2018. This week features the first two legs of a four-match road swing, starting Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Oklahoma City Energy FC (5-10-3, 18 points) in a match nationally televised on ESPNews, then continuing Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (1-6-10, 13 points).
Once transfer paperwork has processed for all three players, they will be injected into the fold of a club that is trying to carry the momentum of a third straight home win Saturday night – 1-0 over Saint Louis FC – onto the road.
#58 - Forward Daniel Guzmán Jr.
Up on the top of the attack is where Guzmán Jr. and Salgado will fit in.
Guzmán Jr., 26, is the son of long-time Liga MX player and coach – and Mexican National Team veteran – Daniel Guzmán. He brings big-time striking ability and quickness to the front line of the attack, and transfers from Suchitepéquez of Liga Nacional – Guatemala’s first division. In 2017 with the club, he tallied 10 goals in 17 appearances.
“I’m really excited, really happy – I’m almost desperate, I really need to play after almost two months of training here,” Guzmán Jr. said. “I’m ready for the moment. I am a player who gives it all, I go for every ball. I really hope that I can create a lot of assists, score a lot of goals and help this team keep it going in the right direction.”
#8 - Forward Omar Salgado
The 24-year-old Salgado carries similar scoring prowess, just in a taller frame.
His experience includes having represented the U.S. Men’s National Team at the U-17, U-18, U-20 and U-23 levels, and he signed his first pro deal with Liga MX giant Chivas at age 15. Salgado was also the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft by Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Most recently, he became the first signee in USL El Paso history – His hometown club, which begins play in the league in 2019. Before shining in his hometown, he wants to not just stay sharp in Las Vegas while on loan, but help Lights FC as it climbs its way back into the Western Conference playoff picture.
“I want to bring goals, wins and hopefully get us to a playoff spot,” he said. “It makes you very anxious for this moment. I’ve been here training for a few weeks. I’ve gotten myself fit, I’m ready to go and this can be a big start for me.”
#4 - Defender Rodrigo Iñigo
Iñigo, meanwhile, has waited longer than any of the three for the opportunity with the club that awaits.
Originally in Las Vegas during the team’s preseason, he came back in May, and also brings a wealth of experience to the club.
Now 32 years old, he originally came up as an amateur through the youth academy of storied Liga MX franchise Club America. He signed with the club in 2006, and was with them through 2014. He most recently played for Venados FC of Ascenso MX, and has plenty of history with Sánchez and Lights FC Technical Director Chelís.
He also brings versatility, with the size and experience to be a key contributor on Lights FC’s back line, but with the skills to also take a spot in the midfield attack.
“I’ve had a lot of patience, and I believe that I can do great things for this team – I’m proud to be here with this team, with these people, with these coaches,” Iñigo said. “I want to help my younger teammates with my experience.”
All three have already made contributions that have been largely unseen.
Now comes the fun part.
“All of the questions from when they arrived have been answered,” Sánchez said. “Yes, they all have quality, but now they have a big challenge to keep helping this team. Their effort will be the base of that.”