Lights FC's Alex Mendoza (left) and Juan Carlos Garcia celebrate a 5-2 victory over Phoenix Rising FC on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, at Cashman Field. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
WHERE TO WATCH AND LISTEN TO LIGHTS FC VS. SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC FC:
- Saturday's first-of-its kind "Bet-Cast" can be seen locally in Las Vegas on myLVTV. The traditional match broadcast will stream nationwide on ESPN+.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – For all involved on the Las Vegas Lights FC side, Wednesday night felt great.
But it was not the end.
A resounding 5-2 come-from-behind victory over second place Phoenix Rising FC closed out the home portion of the club's inaugural home schedule on an incredibly sweet note.
Now, one test remains, as Lights FC travels to face another playoff-bound Western Conference foe - Sacramento Republic FC - Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The two clubs last battled to a 1-1 draw at Cashman Field on April 14.
Saturday's match will also be shown locally in Las Vegas in a first-of-its-kind format, as the first "Bet-Cast" in professional sports history will play out exclusively on myLVTV. The match will be called by a crew including a professional bettor and handicapper live from the Vegas Sports & Information Network (VSiN) studios at South Point Hotel & Casino. It will feature live betting analysis, plus in-match odds and pre-match props provided by William Hill. Those will be available throughout Nevada on the William Hill Mobile Sports wagering app.
The traditional broadcast of the match will stream nationwide on ESPN+.
Sacramento Republic FC currently sits in third place in the Western Conference - one spot behind Phoenix - and has won three straight matches.
"A lot of people, with the result on Wednesday, thought we were done for the season," Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez said. "But there are a bunch of players on our team who need this opportunity in Sacramento. We are not competing for the playoffs, and we've created a good inner competition together.
"You will see a Las Vegas Lights team just as hungry on Saturday as you did on Wednesday."
Wednesday's match turned on a dime for Lights FC in the second half, after falling behind 2-1 before the halftime break.
Defender Miguel Garduño scored in the 71st minute to equalize the match, and by the 84th minute, a Sammy Ochoa scissor-kick goal - maybe the most impressive goal of the season for the club - was putting the hosts up by three. That score came on the heels of Raul Mendiola's team-leading 10th goal of 2018, then captain Carlos Alvarez's seventh.
It was the highest-scoring effort of the season for Lights FC, who was also anchored in goal for a third straight game by Las Vegas native and Bishop Gorman High School grad Thomas Olsen. Olsen had seven saves on the night, including a handful of impressive close-range stops that kept Lights FC in striking distance before its scoring burst.
It was the fourth time in five matches in which Lights FC out-shot its opponent, and Sánchez believed the scoring spurt was the result of several quality performances strung together which simply hadn't had the help of a little luck to earn better results.
"The game on Wednesday, we won it with the eight games before," he said. "There is a quote: 'The more I work, the luckier I am.' Maybe Wednesday wasn't the best game, where we had deserved the most to win. But it was a compilation and a result of those previous good performances, in my opinion."
Lights FC's Sammy Ochoa celebrates his 84th minute goal in a 5-2 victory over Phoenix Rising FC at Cashman Field on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY NIGHT:
LOOKING BACK ON THE FIRST MEETING: Lights FC has earned a reputation in 2018 as the USL's most physical club, and an April 14 meeting with Sacramento Republic FC was one of the grittiest performances for the club. The two battled to a 1-1 draw at Cashman Field, despite Lights FC scoring just 85 seconds into the match, when Joel Huiqui headed in a chance up close off of a Carlos Alvarez corner kick and a Miguel Garduño flick-across.
FAMILIAR FACES RETURN TO SACRAMENTO: Two players on the Lights FC roster with history in Sacramento will return to their former stomping grounds Saturday night. Goalkeeper Thomas Olsen, who has started the last three matches in net for Lights FC, was loaned to Sacramento Republic FC during August and half of September while the club was battling injury issues, but never registered a minute there. Forward Sammy Ochoa, who scored his eighth goal of the season for Lights FC in Wednesday's win, also scored eight goals in 27 appearances last season as a member of Sacramento Republic.
MENDIOLA HITS DOUBLE-DIGITS: Raul Mendiola continues to be a major spark for Las Vegas Lights FC after arriving to the club as a midseason signee. Coming off of the bench as a second half sub with the team needing some offense Wednesday night, the former LA Galaxy member scored an unassisted goal in the 74th minute to put Lights FC up for good. It was his team-leading 10th goal of 2018, and he commemorating it by flashing 10 fingers up towards the Supporters Section after scoring.
DISCIPLINE UPDATES: Lights FC has no players suspended for Saturday's match due to discipline.
INJURY UPDATES: Forward Omar Salgado enters Saturday's match listed as questionable with an upper body injury.
Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen prepares to make a save against Phoenix Rising on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, at Cashman Field. (CREDIT: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC)
WHO TO KNOW FOR LIGHTS FC
Midfielder Rafael Garcia (#25) is a former LA Galaxy member who has aded a veteran spark and presence for the club as a midseason addition. The 2-time MLS Cup champion has been a regular starter in the midfield since joining Lights FC, and has also brought plenty to the table in terms of igniting the offensive attack.
Goalkeeper Thomas Olsen (#30) has made three straight starts in goal for Lights FC after joining the club's keeper rotation midseason. A Las Vegas native who starred in his prep days at Bishop Gorman High School, Olsen has shown strong discipline and leadership, while also making several impressive saves so far to keep Lights FC in matches against some of the USL Western Conference's top outfits.
Midfielder Carlos Alvarez (#7) continues to be a stabilizing force for Lights FC on both ends of the pitch, while consistently wearing the captain's armband during the season's second half. On the year, Alvarez has seven goals and five assists.