Las Vegas Lights FC announced the return of two players from their 2019 roster. Bryan De La Fuente and Angel Alvarez will be back for the 2020 USL Championship season after having their contract options declined in December.
De La Fuente was named the captain before last season by Eric Wynalda, but he missed most of the year recovering from a torn ACL. He ended up featuring down the stretch, despite not appearing to be in full form. He will factor into the equation at full-back and should bring some versatility to the midfielder as well. His return was admirable and an emotional lift to Wynalda and the Lights, but he must prove his quality on the pitch in 2020. He’s 27 years old now and played in Armenia before spending two years with Cal United in the NPSL ahead of his signing in Vegas last year. He will need to showcase the ability that got him signed to Chivas USA back in 2010 and that he’s the same player he was pre-injury.
The return of Angel Alvarez is an interesting one. He only played in three league matches back in 2018 and conceded six goals in zero clean sheets. Last season, he played in the U.S. Open Cup and had a nightmare appearance vs. Orange County FC of the aforementioned NPSL. With the Lights trailing 3-1 at the break, Wynalda pulled the Las Vegas native goalkeeper. After the match, he told BGN, “Everyone saw (Blake) Frischknecht outjump him. That was going to be the theme of the second half. This guy can’t deal with aerial battles. His confidence was clearly rattled when I saw him in the locker room. I know that’s a lousy thing to do to a guy, but I wasn’t going to lose a game that way.” Will Wynalda trust that same Alvarez to be the second keeper on the depth chart behind Thomas Olsen or will he serve as the third goalkeeper again this season? If it’s the latter, I think it’s a frugal move to bring back a player from the area that you’re familiar with, who is great in the community. But, I’m not sure you can count on Alvarez as your starter if something happens to TKO.
As we draw nearer to the opening of the 2020 season, the third-ever season for Lights FC, we will get a better look at the roster construction in Wynalda’s second campaign at the helm.