LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas Lights FC first led, then rallied to earn a 2-2 draw against Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 5,619 fans at Cashman Field. The hosts had numerous close calls to take a second consecutive victory against MLS opposition, but a solid performance by Rapids goalkeeper Andre Rawls left the teams level in an entertaining contest.
“We had a really good start, we put quite a show at the beginning. First 20 minutes of the game, it could’ve been three or four goals in our favor,” said Lights FC Manager Eric Wynalda. “We should’ve won the game, that’s the way I feel. There’s so many times we hit the post or that we were clear on goal but we just didn’t put it away. Either we make the goals bigger, or we get better.”
Las Vegas took the lead in the 44th minute when Irvin Parra served a great cross from the center of the field to Cristhian Hernandez, who got the ball past Rawls 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, however. In the first minute of stoppage time, Diego Rubio found an open Dillon Serna, who fired a low shot from 20 yards in off the left post to send the game to the halftime break level.
The Rapids then took the lead on the hour-mark when midfielder Nicolas Mezquida banged the ball just over Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen to put the visitors ahead. Las Vegas responded three minutes later through a set piece as Hernandez delivered a free kick that found midfielder Christian Torres for a headed finish. One of five returning players to the Lights FC squad this season, Torres was pleased to find the net for the first time in Lights FC colors and earn his side a draw.
“It was a tough, complicated match,” said Torres. “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.”
Las Vegas almost grabbed a late winner as second-half substitutes Edwin Rivas and Tabort Etaka Preston both went close to breaking the game open. Rivas had a header in the penalty area that was blocked by Rawls, while Preston was denied by the woodwork on a shot from outside the penalty area late on. Lights FC maintained its undefeated preseason record, though, as it now looks ahead to its regular-season opener against Austin Bold FC on March 9.