Looking back on an eventful day in Lights FC history

Excitement off the pitch and disappointment on it for Lights FC yesterday.

Yesterday was a very “Vegas-y” day for Las Vegas Lights FC. By that, I mean there was optimism regarding a future investment and a high-action game ended with one side winning a lot of money and the other losing out. Let’s take a look back at 5/30/2019, a day that will be memorable in Lights FC history for a couple of reasons.

In the afternoon, a tweet from Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman shook up the soccer landscape in Sin City. She was announcing that a vote will take place on the city council next week, 6/5, to approve a deal with The Renaissance Companies Inc. about potentially building a new soccer stadium at the Cashman Field site to house a future Major League Soccer expansion side. The Lights followed up with a statement from Owner & Brett Lashbrook that shared his excitement on the potential news and mentioned an agreement to transfer ownership pending some things happening with this new project.

There will be many days to discuss the future of MLS in downtown Las Vegas and how it affects the club, but for this article, it’s just important to mention there was a major buzz associated with the news. That energy carried over to Cashman Field, where Lights FC were hosting amateur side Orange County FC in the US Open Cup third round.

The positive vibes from the MLS and stadium news disappeared shortly after kickoff when the hosts were stunned by an early goal. Then, there was a really bad own goal to put Las Vegas down 2-0 to OCFC. The Lights would pull one back before conceding again ahead of half time, entering the locker room down 3-1. At the break, Head Coach Eric Wynalda made two substitutions, including pulling goalkeeper Angel Alvarez. Explaining the goalkeeper decision postgame, Wynalda told me, “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.”

Along with GK Thomas Olsen, Pablo Cruz was an impact sub out of the break. Las Vegas battled back and equalized courtesy of goals from Edwin Rivas Jr. and Junior Sandoval. The latter’s goal came in the 85th minute. Instead of sitting back and playing for extra time, Wynalda felt the best move would be to push for a goal rather than rely on players that were battling fitness in 30 extra minutes. The decision backfired as OCFC scored twice to secure a shocking 5-3 upset win in the third round of the US Open Cup. In their only two Open Cup runs, the Lights were defeated in the same round by an amateur side.

Now, the club will look forward after a draw last Saturday and a loss last night, both at home. They face in-state rival Reno 1868 FC on the road on Saturday and the MLS stadium vote will take place on Wednesday. Things are a bit wacky and wild around Las Vegas Lights FC, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for the USL Championship side.

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.