A Light Preview: Lights FC look to get back on track at home vs. Loyal SC

Last weekend, Las Vegas Lights FC suffered their first home defeat of 2021, losing 3-1 to Orange County SC. Tonight, they look to get back to their winning ways at home when they host San Diego Loyal SC.

Las Vegas Lights FC (2-5-1)

After winning their first away match of the season vs. Los Dos on 6/16, the Lights followed that up with their first home loss of 2021 vs. OCSC on Saturday. Las Vegas conceded three goals in each match and those numbers look more like the club’s defense in the four losses to open the season rather than the recent improvement vs. Tacoma and San Antonio.

As it does with every affiliate of an MLS club, the success of Lights FC will depend a lot on who is down from the first team. Against Orange County, there was no Bryce Duke, Cal Jennings, Tony Leone, or Tomas Romero. All of those players have played key roles for the club and were missed on Saturday. Romero and Jennings started for LAFC vs. FC Dallas on Wednesday. As of 2 PM, the loanees from LAFC were not yet announced.

The most important juncture in the match will come after the fans try to break the Guinness world record for the largest water balloon fight during halftime. In every loss this season (outside of the Phoenix Rising FC 5-1 blowout), the winning goal has come in the second half after Las Vegas either led or was tied entering the break. They will need to focus down the stretch and try to put together a complete performance to defeat San Diego.

Vegas Player SpotLight

CC Uche: He returned to the starting XI against OC after missing some time due to injury and then coming off the bench as he worked his way back. Without Tony Leone down on loan, Uche got the start at center-back, wearing the captain’s armband. Unfortunately, the defense had some lapses, Uche included, in the loss.

That was the fourth match that the rookie defender has started and captained the side. The Lights have lost all four of those matches while going unbeaten in the other three matches. While it’s obviously not solely his fault, he will need to be locked in tonight to reverse that trend.

San Diego Loyal SC (3-4-2)

Who You Should Know

Jack Blake: He scored both goals in the club’s upset win over Phoenix Rising FC last week. On the season, he leads the club with four goals, two assists (tied with Charlie Adams), 20 shots, and 17 chances created.

Collin Martin: The former MLS midfielder is key to the club’s possession-based approach, completing 89.9% of his passes and averaging 57.2 passes per 90 minutes. He also added one assist and has a club-high 23 tackles.

Joshua Yaro: The #2 overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, Yaro has established himself as a crucial piece to the Loyal SC defense. With seven appearances in his first season with San Diego, he leads the club with 34 clearances and is tied for the lead with 13 interceptions. His 90.6% passing accuracy is the best on the team for any player with more than five passes attempted.

What You Should Know

  • Winless on the road (0-4-2), conceding 13 goals in those matches
  • Defeated Lights FC 2-1 on May 29th in San Diego to end a four-match losing streak to start the season
  • Fifth-most goals conceded (16) in the USL Championship, zero clean sheets
  • Lead the league in passes (4,319). tied for 2nd in passing accuracy (82%), 54% average possession
  • USMNT alumni matchup on the touchline with Steve Cherundolo and Landon Donovan (who was suspended for the first meeting)

The Deets

Tonight, 7:30 PM Pacific, Cashman Field

San Diego Loyal SC 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.