A Light Preview: 2021 home opener on tap for Las Vegas Lights FC

After starting their season with four away matches, Las Vegas Lights FC will play their first match of 2021 at Cashman Field tonight when they host Tacoma Defiance, the USL Championship affiliate of Seattle Sounders FC.

Las Vegas Lights FC (0-4-0)

Tonight will be a unique experience for Las Vegas Lights FC and the soccer fans in Vegas as the LAFC affiliate makes its home debut. Will the club’s strong attendance track record continue despite this no longer feeling like a true team of the city? Is the crowd noise and intensity going to be diminished? It’s tough to predict. The city loves soccer and has done a solid job supporting Lights FC, despite inconsistency on the pitch and some over-the-top promotions. But, gone are the days of hometown hero Thomas Olsen and players you saw in the community actively promoting the club. Now, it’s a roster of young players selected by LAFC that doesn’t even train in Sin City. The home-field advantage was a big key for the Lights in the past and it will be interesting to see if that continues in this new era. At the very least, owner Brett Lashbrook mentioned an improved confetti cannon situation.

Outside of the home opener storyline, Lights FC must get things figured out on the pitch. “Las Dos” will have to tighten things up defensively in a big way if they want to impress the home crowd. They’ve conceded the most goals (15) in the league and have the worst goal differential (-12). Unfortunately, the lack of defending has not been due to the club playing exceptional soccer in the attack. They are tied for the second-fewest goals scored (three) and are towards the bottom of the list for shots (35). We will see tonight if this young group gets a boost from having a crowd pushing them forward as they try to take down Tacoma.

Vegas Player SpotLights

Danny Musovski: On loan down from LAFC for this match, the Henderson, NV native gets the chance to play a home match with his hometown club. At Media Day on Thursday, he mentioned how excited he is to play in front of friends and family. The UNLV product will be relied upon to do damage in the attack for Lights FC.

Alex Rando: Yes, the rookie goalkeeper has conceded seven goals in his first two appearances. But, he’s also tied for the most saves in the league with 22 in just two matches. Unless the defense magically improves exponentially at Cashman Field, Rando will likely be called upon often to keep the match close and make big stops. If he can turn in a star performance, Lights FC could secure their first result of the season.

Tacoma Defiance (2-0-1)

Who to Know

Alec Diaz: The 19-year-old forward has one goal this season after scoring six in 2020. He currently has a team-high four shots in 2021 and will be the player that the Las Vegas defense must shutdown.

Eric Kinzer: The central defender leads the club with 99 passes and six blocks. He also has 10 clearances and five interceptions to his name.

Issa Rayyan: Another member of the Tacoma backline, he was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week in Week 4 when Tacoma defeated San Diego Loyal SC. The outside-back has one assist and 15 duels won this season.

What to Know

  • Started the season 30th on the USL Championship Power Rankings, now up to 14th in Week 6
  • Out of action since 5/16 after their match with Austin Bold FC over the weekend was delayed due to inclement weather
  • Last-place in the league with 24 shots, tied for 1st in conversion rate (25%)
  • Winless in two matches at Cashman Field, outscored 9-1 in those fixtures (4-1 in 2018, 5-0 in 2019)
  • 42% average possession, 70% passing accuracy

The Deets

Tonight, 7:30 PM Pacific, Cashman Field

Tacoma Defiance at Las Vegas Lights FC

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.