Las Vegas Lights FC scored the first goal in both of their 2019 Major League Soccer Spring Training matches.
LAS VEGAS, NV - Las Vegas was the clear aggressor on the pitch against MLS opponent Colorado Rapids in a preseason match that attracted 5,619 fans to Cashman Field. But posts, close calls and good saves by Andre Rawls left the final score with an entertaining 2-2 tie.
“We had a really good start, we put quite a show at the beginning. First 20 minutes of the game, it could’ve been 3 or 4 goals in our favor,” said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda about his team, that finally got the ball in the back of the net in the 44th minute. Irvin Parra served a great cross from the center of the field to Cristhian Hernandez, who got the ball past Colorado's goalkeeper with a left footed shot from outside the box to give the Lights a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for the Rapids to respond. In the first minute of stoppage time, Diego Rubio found an open Dillon Serna that equalized the score to send the game to the halftime break knotted 1-1.
It might’ve been a friendly between a USL Championship team and a Major League Soccer squad, but both of them came out full throttle in the second half and had good opportunities to get themselves ahead in the score. That didn’t happen until the 60th minute when Rapids midfielder Nicolas Mezquida banged the ball just over Thomas Olsen to give the visitors their first lead of the game.
Rapids showed they knew how to react to being down in the score in the first half, and so did the Lights in the second half. Las Vegas took advantage of a set piece in the 63rd minute of play, with Cristhian Hernandez having pin point precision in a free kick to find midfielder Christian Torres who with a header scored his first Lights FC goal to equalize the game.
“It was a tough, complicated match. We’re happy we got the tie and played great against a good MLS team. Eric (Wynalda) is playing me in a different position and he’s liking it, I’m very happy of scoring my first goal with Las Vegas”, stated Torres who is only one of five returnees from the 2018 roster.
Christian Torres is taking advantage of the new position head coach Eric Wynalda is playing him in, becoming a feature on Lights FC's Starting XI.
Lights FC clearly wanted to preserve their perfect record in the 2019 preseason, with manager Eric Wynalda using 4 of his 5 substitutions to send attacking minded players onto the field with Matt Thomas, Edwin Rivas, Jesus Quintero and Tabort Etaka Preston being subbed in. Rivas and Preston caused danger on the opposing goal, with Edwin having a header in the box that was blocked by Rawls and Preston shooting a laser from outside the box that hit the post close to the end of the match.
“We should’ve won the game, that’s the way I feel”, concluded Wynalda with how his team played. “There’s so many times we hit the post or that we were clear on goal but that we just didn’t put it away. Either we make the goals bigger, or we get better.”
The 2-2 draw keeps Las Vegas undefeated during preseason play. Lights FC's USL Championship season opener is 3 weeks away, with expansion franchise Austin Bold visiting Sin City on March 9 for a 7:30 p.m. matchup at Cashman Field. Tickets for this game and all Lights FC 2019 regular season home matches can be purchased at LightsFC.com/Tix or at any La Bonita Supermarket in Las Vegas.