Las Vegas Lights FC pick up a win and a clean sheet in their home opener

Finally playing at home, Las Vegas Lights FC broke out in a big way. After four losses to start the season, the LAFC affiliate picked up their first win and a clean sheet in the 2021 home opener. Cal Jennings scored in the first half before Bryce Duke added an insurance goal late in the second half.

Key Stat

18-4 shot advantage. Good shot output from the Lights, but them limiting Tacoma to only four shots (two on target) is massive for the club. Las Vegas has been on the business end of alarming amounts of shots to this point in the season, including more than 40 in the Phoenix match alone. On Media Day, head coach Steve Cherundolo told me that he was encouraged that the defense wasn’t typically making the same mistakes over and over and seemed confident they could get it turned around. Last night, the backline came up big for Lights FC.

Three Brightest Lights

Bryce Duke: The young midfielder was the best player on the pitch last night. He scored the second goal (one of his four shots), created seven chances, and completed 85% of his passes.

Cal Jennings: He dominated the early action of the match, including multiple quality chances, and was rewarded with a goal in the 19th minute. Jennings finished with six shots on the night and consistently worked his way to the end line to open things up for Lights FC.

Frank Daroma: A spark plug in the midfield, Daroma’s control, speed, and quick turns were on full display in downtown Las Vegas. He completed 49 passes, fired two shots, and connected on 81% of his passes in the attacking half.

Quick Kicks

  • Recapping the first match of the season vs. Los Dos, I highlighted the duo of Daroma and Duke for Lights FC. While Cal Jennings has been solid for the club, those two young midfielders are game-changers. They are both very active, whether they’re pressing or dribbling the ball forward, and they are nearly impossible to win the ball off of. Daroma is the perfect link from the defense to the attack and Duke is a gifted playmaker.
  • Danny Musovski, on loan from LAFC, got to play for his hometown club last night. He had a few opportunities but was betrayed by a heavy touch on a couple of occasions.
  • Lights FC put Tacoma under pressure from the opening whistle, constantly pressing when out of possession and attacking the goal with purpose. They never let the visitors get comfortable.
  • The goalkeeping position is an interesting one for the Lights. Tomas Romero has started all three matches that he’s been loaned down for and Alex Rando played in the other two. But, it’s always Duncan Turnbull on the bench, including last night with Rando not in the matchday squad of 18.
  • Alvaro Quezada has been solid at left-back and assisted on Jennings’ goal. Julian Gaines still had some shaky moments at right-back, but the teenager is improving and registered four tackles and completed 92% of his passes.
  • The supporters’ section was rocking and there were certainly fans enjoying the different promotional areas offered by the Lights, including the pitchside pools and “Toyota Row”. But, there were quite a few empty seats for the home opener, which will be interesting to keep track of as the season wears on.
  • Potentially contributing to some fans enjoying the match at home on ESPN+ instead, it was HOT last night at Cashman Field. Over 100 degrees at kickoff and through a large chunk of the action, we will see if the players can use the notorious Vegas dry heat to their advantage this season (despite training in LA) and how the grass holds up.

What’s Next?

Some Friday Night Futbol next week for Las Vegas Lights FC as they will host San Antonio FC on 6/11. SAFC finished with a 1-1 draw on the road vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC last night.

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.