Ahead of their opener vs. San Diego Loyal SC, Las Vegas Lights FC have announced their roster to start the season.
Las Vegas Lights FC will open its season against San Diego Loyal SC on Saturday. Today, they debuted their first two kits of the season and announced three more signings, putting the roster at 19 players. We take a look at the club’s 2020 squad as it stands currently, the second one put together by Lights FC’s head coach and technical director, Eric Wynalda.
Goalkeepers: Thomas Olsen, Angel Alvarez, Edward Delgado
Just like last season, Thomas Olsen enters the season as the clear-cut starter for Las Vegas Lights FC. He finished last season in the top ten for saves and clean sheets. He was arguably the most consistent player for the 2019 squad. Behind him, Angel Alvarez has returned on a new deal after his option was declined. He is undersized for the position and struggled in the Open Cup last season. Edward Delgado joins the club as a rookie from Westmont College where he was starred at the NAIA level. The 6’3” Oxnard, California native should push Alvarez for the backup role.
Defenders: Gabe Robinson, Ramon Martin Del Campo, Jordan Murrell, Jonathan Levin, Chancel Ndaye, Johnny Fenwick, Bryan de la Fuente
This is clearly the deepest position of quality players for Lights FC. The biggest acquisition of the offseason on paper was Ramon Martin Del Campo. The central defender is coming off a successful season with Fresno FC, tallying 117 clearances, three goals, and 33 interceptions while completing nearly 80% of his passes. He will occupy a position in the spine of Las Vegas’ defense. His partner in crime will most likely be Gabe Robinson. He was a steady player for most of last season and provides the long-throwing ability. Per a club press release, Jordan Murrell will be the starter at left-back. He has experience in the league with Pittsburgh, Real Monarchs, and Reno 1868 FC. He looks like he can provide some long passing ability from the backline, but his crossing ability is more of a mystery. Opposite him, I would expect Chancel Ndaye to get the starting nod at right-back. The 20-year-old is a tall, rangy player that looks confident getting forward.
Johnny Fenwick will provide competition and depth at center-back. The former Newcastle United youth player joins the club after a year with San Antonio FC. 2019 Las Vegas Lights FC captain Bryan de la Fuente missed most of last season and he played primarily as a full-back. He and Jonathan Levin will be depth options in the defense or the midfield.
Midfielders: Jose Carrera, Mobi Fehr, Junior Sandoval, Javan Torre, Grant Robinson, Junior Burgos
Mobi Fehr is back after splitting time between right-back and as a holding midfielder last season for Las Vegas Lights FC. He is a quality passer from the midfield and helps to control the tempo. Also returning to the midfield, Junior Sandoval scored two goals and had five assists in 2019. He provides some attacking threat. According to Eric Wynalda, Javan Torre will feature primarily in the midfield. He is a physically imposing player with surprisingly good skill on the ball. Torre will try to control the middle of the park and can also slide back to the defense if needed.
The newcomers are Junior Burgos, Jose Carrera, and Grant Robinson. Burgos, the 31-year-old El Salvadoran national team player, was one of the first signings for Atlanta United but never played for the club. Most recently, he starred for New York Cosmos in the NPSL and will bring set-piece skill and quality going forward to the Lights. A former star for the Cal Bears, Jose Carrera joins the club after playing in the second division in Mexico. Grant Robinson is a rookie out of George Mason, where he had six goals and four assists in his college career.
Forwards: Seku Conneh, Santiago Echavarria, Yamikani Chester
Seku Conneh has experience in the USL as he scored 12 goals in over 40 matches for the club formerly known as Bethlehem Steel FC. In nine appearances for Lights FC last season, Santiago Echavarria scored one goal on three shots. According to the club’s social media, Yamikani Chester just arrived in Las Vegas on Tuesday. The former North Carolina FC winger may not be fully fit yet, but he will bring pace and aggressiveness to the attack once he’s ready to roll.
When you look at this Las Vegas Lights FC roster, it’s heavy at the back. A lot of solid defenders and a quality goalkeeper, but there aren’t a lot of proven goalscoring options. That should allow less pressure and reliance on Thomas Olsen. After the experience of a year in this league, it will be interesting to see how Eric Wynalda sets the club up. Last season, the gameplan didn’t seem obvious at points. The club relied too much on goals from set-pieces and struggled to put shots on frame from the run of play. Will he use his defensively stout team to hold onto the ball and control the match? Or, will they sit back, concede possession, and play on the counter-attack? Best-case scenario, they will be tough to break down and can be explosive on the break with Seku Conneh and Yamikani Chester as Mobi Fehr and Junior Burgos pull the strings. Worst-case scenario, the goals don’t come consistently enough with no proven scorers and they struggle to overcome one-goal deficits and lose a lot of close matches.
Las Vegas Lights FC Predicted Best XI
Goalkeeper: Thomas Olsen
Defenders: Jordan Murrell, Gabe Robinson, Ramon Martin Del Campo, Chancel Ndaye
Midfielder: Javan Torre, Mobi Fehr, Junior Sandoval, Junior Burgos
Forwards: Seku Conneh, Yamikani Chester