A Light Preview: Match #28 vs. Phoenix Rising FC

Tonight, Las Vegas Lights FC will host the hottest team in North American soccer.

After a big loss to El Paso over the weekend, Las Vegas Lights FC will have the toughest task in North American soccer tonight: trying to defeat Phoenix Rising FC. We preview the matchup between the 14th and 1st place sides in the USL Championship Western Conference.

Looking at the Lights (8-11-8)

Saturday’s loss to El Paso puts Lights FC closer to the edge of the playoff picture out West. They now sit five points below the final playoff position. Obviously, that is not an insurmountable deficit, but it would require that the Lights string together some positive results. Eric Wynalda’s side has not won more than two matches consecutively this year and their longest unbeaten streak was three matches, twice. Also working against their playoff push is the club’s upcoming schedule. They host the best team in the league tonight, then the second-best team on Saturday, then the fourth-best team. After two matches vs. clubs below the line, they close the season with two matches vs. current playoff sides. It will be a tough road for Lights FC.

On the pitch, the club is as healthy as its been all year. Bryan De La Fuente, Jose Villarreal, and Mobi Fehr are all off the injury list now. The only player that will definitely not be in action is Junior Sandoval, who is suspended for a red card vs. El Paso.

It will be interesting to see how Coach Wynalda approaches this match. They are playing at home, where they are typically aggressive. But, they are playing the most explosive side in the league that can score in an instant. Will the Lights put their foot on the gas and try to outgun the biggest gun in the USL Championship or will they bunker down and try to play for a draw at Cashman Field? Last year, with Phoenix enjoying a more reasonably successful season, Lights FC defeated Phoenix in Las Vegas, also on a Wednesday night late in the season, 5-2. Let’s see if Sin City’s squad has another trick up their sleeve.

Who you should know: Phoenix Rising FC (20-2-5)

Solomon Asante: This is not a new revelation, but he is the best player in the league and currently leads said league in goals and assists. He is a record-breaking, speedy, skilled dynamo and the Lights will need to focus quite a bit of their attention on stopping him.

Zac Lubin: Not only are Rising FC an offensive juggernaut, but they also have the most clean sheets in the USLC. Lubin, their starting goalkeeper, has a league-high 13 clean sheets himself and is in the top ten in saves.

Junior Flemmings: The Jamaican has 11 goals and seven assists and he combines well with Asante and striker Adam Jahn (14 goals).

The Deets

Tonight, kick-off 7:30 PM Pacific Time, at Cashman Field

Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Phoenix Rising 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.