Lights FCs Omar Salgado pushes the pace during first half action of the team's match on Saturday, July 14, 2018, at Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. (CREDIT: RGVFC)
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EDINBURG, Texas – In a quest to secure points away from the confines of Cashman Field, the final minute of each half came back to haunt Las Vegas Lights FC in a 2-0 loss Saturday night at Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.
That was when chances from the hosts found the back of the net on a frustrating night for the visitors at H-E-B Park.
Lights FC (5-8-5, 20 points) now comes back home for a few days to reset before a 2-match Pacific Northwest road trip begins with a 2 p.m. match with Portland Timbers 2 next Sunday at 2 p.m., streaming nationwide on ESPN+.
"The urgency moving forward is to work and perform well," Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez said. "We train hard, and we need to turn that into good performances. The focus now will continue to be on discipline. We will find the eleven players (for next weekend) who want to train and work hard for our team goals."
Playing its third match in eight days, Lights FC got some help in the form of fresh legs, with a quartet of midseason transfers making their club debuts as part of the Starting XI on Saturday night.
While building match chemistry on the fly, each of the new faces showed some flashes during an up-and-down first half of play.
Forwards Daniel Guzmán Jr. and Omar Salgado each showed skills while the team was on the attack. Defensively, Rodrigo Iñigo and Joseph Patrick Perez both had their moments in the first half, as well, including a monster block in front of the goal by Iñigo in the 17th minute to shut down RGVFC's first major scoring opportunity.
"They gave a big effort, but lacked the rhythm of competition," Sánchez said. "They showed good things, but we'll be looking to fit them in at the pace we want moving forward."
However, what appeared to be a headed to the halftime break as a 0-0 match changed on a dime in the 45th minute. Lights FC goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño and several defenders combined to turn away multiple RGVFC scoring looks in a ping-pong-like play in front of the net. Finally, though, the ball was corralled by Toros' Conor Donovan, who put a right-footed strike from distance past Ferriño.
The 1-0 advantage played into RGVFC's favor, as a club that focuses on keeping matches close, draining clock and scoring predominately via counter-attacks.
With the wind at its back in the second half, Lights FC pushed the tempo late to create a couple of golden scoring chances in an effort to equalize and preserve at least a point on the road.
The two cleanest looks late came from Raul Mendiola and Daigo Kobayashi. However, Mendiola couldn't make it four straight matches with a goal scored, as his late right side strike was stopped by RGVFC keeper Michael Nelson, and Kobayashi had an 88th minute chance in close go just over the crossbar.
RGVFC closed the book for good following Kobayashi's miss, as Jesús Enríquez finished off a counter-attack chance.
Overall, RGVFC was game for the challenge of a Lights FC offensive attack that has been hot of late. Toros, in their typical fashion, limited Lights FC to 11 shots on goal, and was able to hold 57.8 percent of possession on the night.
"We knew RGVFC was a very disciplined team, and if you watched their latest results, it has been very difficult to get them to concede goals," Sánchez said. "But we played very long, we weren't compact, and that's why we had a very low volume of offensive plays."
Lights FC and RGVFC will run it back in the club's next home match in Downtown Las Vegas on Saturday, August 4, at 8 p.m. at Cashman Field. Tickets are available, starting at just $15, at LightsFC.com.