After back-to-back matches were postponed due to COVID-19 positive tests, Las Vegas Lights FC are slated to finally return to action against Orange County SC tonight.
Looking at the Lights (0-2-1)
First off, let’s hope whoever tested positive, no matter their role, has a quick recovery from COVID-19 or that it was a false positive. Now, to the soccer…Frank Yallop’s side will finally get back on the pitch for the first time since a 1-0 loss on August 1st to Reno 1868 FC.
As I mentioned in my preview of the LV vs. Loyal SC match that didn’t happen (and is now rescheduled for 9/2), the Lights are still looking for their first win of the season. In 2019, their first win came in their fourth match and they will get a chance to repeat that feat tonight in their fourth match of 2020. But, they will need to go on the road and defeat a really good Orange County SC side to do that.
Las Vegas currently occupies the basement of Group B with only one point (in the fewest matches played) as Phoenix Rising FC and San Diego Loyal SC are in the two top spots with 13 and 11 points respectively. Below them, LA Galaxy II and OC are battling right behind them, which means that every match is going to be hotly contested for Las Vegas. Let’s face it, the Lights were expected to be towards the bottom of the table and every club will feel they need to take all three points from their matchups with the club. Yallop needs to keep his team compact and disciplined and try to steal some results in close, low-scoring matches because they haven’t proven to have the ability to put numbers on the board.
The Lights are 22nd in the league in shots while playing fewer matches than some clubs below them, but they need goals with only two thus far. They made a move this week that could help boost the attack. They signed Blake Frischknecht, a local product that starred in college for Utah Valley State. He’s still working back to full fitness from a knee injury last fall, but he will be a much-needed body at striker for the Lights, who he eliminated from the Open Cup with Orange County FC.
Another player arrived this week as defender Noah Billingsley arrives on loan from Minnesota United of MLS. The New Zealand international will further bolster the club’s biggest strength: their backline.
Who you should know: Orange County SC (2-0-2)
Sean “Ugo” Okoli: The 2016 USL Golden Boot winner and MVP, Ugo has two goals already back in the league he excelled in before moving to MLS. He has the most shots on the team, more than double the next player.
Aodhan Quinn: An elite midfielder in the league for years, he leads the club in chances created (eight) and in passes, connecting on 86% of his 225 passes through four matches. Quinn also has one goal and one assist.
Rob Kiernan: He comes to the USL Championship with experience across the top divisions of English and Scottish soccer. The veteran defender leads the club in clearances and aerial duels won, while also sitting second in passes.
Tonight | Championship Soccer Stadium | 7 PM PT Kickoff
Las Vegas Lights FC at Orange County SC