Lights FC's Matt Thomas fights for possession against Portland Timbers 2 at Cashman Field on Sunday, September 16, 2018. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
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A festive Mexican Independence Day celebration at Cashman Field included everything short of the win to take home at the end of the night.
Las Vegas Lights FC held the lead for three quarters of Sunday's match against USL Western Conference rival Portland Timbers 2, but a late charge from the visitors left the hosts with a 2-1 defeat to swallow.
Ahead of Mariachi performances at halftime and a post-match fireworks show, Lights FC kicked off the celebration in the best way possible - With a goal in the opening minutes.
In the 4th minute of the match, Las Vegas native Matt Thomas centered a ball on the attack from his spot on the left side. It found forward Raul Mendiola, who collected and quickly fired home his team-leading seventh goal of 2018.
The lead nearly grew in the following minutes, as a handful of chances - Including a rocket from forward Sammy Ochoa and a clean header look for defender Joel Huiqui - found Timbers 2 goalkeeper Alex Mangels's gloves instead.
The match turned into a back-and-forth stand-off between the two clubs, as offensive chances dried up. Lights FC's back line made a handful of key stops, as did goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño, to help preserve a 1-0 halftime edge.
However, it was Portland Timbers 2 who was able to finish stronger.
In the 72nd minute, Victor Arboleda equalized the match, and it was followed by a calm and cool Renzo Zambrano finish on a 2-on-1 break in the 84th minute to give the visitors the lead for good.
Lights FC now has a week to prepare for next Saturday's third and final leg of the Silver State Cup vs. in-state rival Reno 1868 FC, who it has a draw and a loss against in the first two meetings of 2018. That match will kick off at 7 p.m., airing locally on myLVTV and streaming nationwide on ESPN+.
The club returns to Cashman Field for the first of three remaining home matches on the 2018 slate on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. against Orange County SC.
Several unique promotions are still to come in the season's final full month. The schedule includes the second of two Season Ticket Member parties this Tuesday night, the first Bobblehead Night in club history on Saturday, Sept. 29, with the first 5,000 fans in attendance receiving a bobblehead of Lights FC mascot “Cash the Soccer Rocker." For full details on the rest of the month's action, plus to purchase single-match tickets starting at just $15, visit LightsFC.com/September.