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 Rhode Island FC

Match Preview: Rhode Island FC vs. Las Vegas Lights FC: April 20, 2024

April 18, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Rhode Island FC News Release

Rhode Island FC will play its third match in eight days on Saturday when the club travels to Cashman Field to take on Las Vegas Lights FC (3W-0D-3L) at 8 p.m. ET. With both teams looking to bounce back in USL Championship play and get into the win column, here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's match.


Date | Saturday, April 20

Kickoff | 8 PM ET

Location | Cashman Field, Las Vegas, Nevada

Broadcast |ESPN+

Social | @rhodeislandfc (X, Instagram, Facebook)

Match Hashtag | #LVvRI



GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Nicholas Ammeter, 31-Austin Wormell, 56-Raiko Arozarena

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Edward Berumen, 4-Fabien Garcia, 20 Shawn Smart, 22-Joe Hafferty, 23-Emrah Klimenta, 24-Maliek Howell, 33-Gennaro Michael Nigro, 72-Gaoussou Samaké

MIDFIELDERS (11): 6-Charlie Adams, 7-Joseph-Claude Gyau, 8-Coleman Gannon, 10-Edison Azcona, 11-Christian Pinzon, 13-Giovanni Aguilar, 26-Claude Ngando, 27-Valentin Noël, 60-Sawyer Crisostomo, 77-Alexander Romero, 79-All-Gue

FORWARDS (3): 9-Riki Alba, 14-Solomon Asante, 90-Khori Bennett

Back to Winning Ways

After back-to-back losses to start the 2024 USL Championship season, Las Vegas Lights FC saw a complete resurgence in April, winning three-straight matches against El Paso Locomotive FC, Oakland Roots SC and San Antonio FC, outscoring opponents 4-0 in that span. The latter of the three victories, a 1-0 win over San Antonio FC, saw three Las Vegas players named to the USL Championship Team of the Week. Just when it seemed impossible to crack a resilient Las Vegas defense, Monterey Bay put three past the Western Conference side, ending Las Vegas' impressive streak in its last USL Championship match. Monterey Bay took a quick lead from the spot inside 10 minutes to set the tone, and a late, first-half Gaoussou Samaké goal was not enough to overcome what was a two-goal deficit at the break.

Brick Wall in the Back

Saturday's match will test two in-form defensive units against each other. While Rhode Island FC have not conceded in 185 minutes of USL Championship action, Las Vegas Lights FC's 3-1 loss last time out snapped a 314-minute shutout streak that spanned more than three matches. A large part of the shutout streak came from goalkeeper Raiko Arozarena who, similarly to RIFC's Jackson Lee, was a late addition to the starting lineup for head coach Dennis Sanchez. Making his first start of the year in the club's third match of the season, the 27-year-old recorded three consecutive shutouts to kick off his Las Vegas Lights FC career. The goalkeeper has already helped the club match its win total from 2023 less than two months into the new season.

Samaké Shines

Despite the loss at Monterey Bay F.C., Gaoussou Samaké has been in excellent form for Las Vegas. The defender has played down the left wing through the first six matches of the season, and has scored in each of Las Vegas' last two USL Championship matches, including the goal that secured all three points for Las Vegas in its 1-0 win over San Antonio. The 26-year-old has now scored three goals in his professional career. His two goals in 2024 mark his only multi-goal season and his first time scoring in consecutive matches. Samaké leads the club in USL Championship scoring alongside midfielder Valentin Noël, who also has two league goals this year.

Late U.S. Open Cup Drama

Las Vegas' midweek matchup with USL League One's Spokane Velocity was one of seven Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Third Round matches decided in extra time, and similarly to Rhode Island's contest, it had no shortage of drama. Ultimately, a 2-1 win would do the job for Las Vegas, but a pair of late goals made the win far less comfortable than Head Coach Dennis Sanchez would have liked. After taking the lead in the 51st minute when Valentine Noël's low first-time finish found the net for his club-leading third goal in all competitions, the hosts seemed destined for the win after denying Spokane a single shot on target through 90 minutes. Noël thought he had wrapped up the brace 10 minutes later, but he was flagged offside. However, six minutes into second-half stoppage time, the first shot on frame all match for Spokane was enough to find the back of the net from nearly 35 yards out, leveling the contest and forcing extra time. Despite the setback, Ricki Alba would become the hero of the night in the 113th minute, scoring his first Las Vegas goal to retake the lead and punch the club's ticket to the Round of 32.



GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Koke Vegas, 22-Jackson Lee, 30-Nate Silveira

DEFENDERS (6): 2-Nathan Messer, 3-Stephen Turnbull, 4-Collin Smith, 5-Grant Stoneman, 15-Frank Nodarse, 16-Gabriel Alves, 24-Karifa Yao

MIDFIELDERS (9): 7-Prince Saydee, 12-Clay Holstad, 17-Jojea Kwizera, 18-Joe Brito, 19-Kevin Vang, 21-Kofi Twumasi, 23-Marc Ybarra, 28-Conor McGlynn, 77-Amos Shapiro-Thompson

FORWARDS (4): 9-JJ Williams, 10-Chico, 11-Noah Fuson, 14-Mark Doyle

Midweek Madness

As the Ocean State club embarked on its inaugural Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup journey on Tuesday, fans were hungry for a taste of the club's first-ever win after two straight draws at home in USL Championship play. While the wait for the first win will have to wait, fans were treated to the highest-scoring match of the Open Cup so far, and the highest-scoring match in RIFC history. In an eight-goal instant classic, the club fell in a dramatic, back-and-forth 4-4 draw that ultimately ended in a 5-4 penalty-shootout loss against USL League One side Charlotte Independence. Despite matching its goal total through the first five matches of the USL Championship campaign, holding two leads and scoring a dramatic equalizer deep into extra time to force penalties, RIFC could not go the distance. A night that ultimately ended in disappointment will leave Rhode Island FC even hungrier for its first win in club history as the team returns to league action on Saturday.

Night of Firsts

Despite exiting the Open Cup in the Third Round after its first-ever match in the competition, Rhode Island FC's penalty-shootout loss to Charlotte Independence had plenty of silver lining. Conor McGlynn, Clay Holstad and Stephen Turnbull all picked up their first goal for RIFC, while Nathan Messer tallied his first career goal in his first professional start. Prior to Tuesday's match, Albert Dikwa "Chico" was the only RIFC player to score a goal for the club through the first five matches. In the loss, Mark Doyle and Collin Smith also recorded their first assists for the Ocean State club. The match marked the first time RIFC had gone to extra time, scored in extra time and participated in a penalty shootout.

Looking for Goal

Despite the eight-goal match in Open Cup play, RIFC is still looking to open the floodgates on the attack in league play. Through the first five matches, the club has scored four goals and are most recently coming off a pair of 0-0 draws at Beirne Stadium to Charleston Battery and Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. Rhode Island FC's last goal came in the 16th minute of the club's 4-1 road loss to Tampa Bay Rowdies on March 30. Aided by the fresh legs of leading scorer Albert Dikwa, who came off the bench in extra time on Tuesday, Head Coach Khano Smith will look to replicate the formula that brought his squad so much attacking success midweek.

Between the Sticks

Through its last two league matches, Rhode Island FC has shown resilience in the back. The club has not conceded in league play in the month of April, with goalkeeper Jackson Lee coming up with nine key saves through two matches, including the first clean sheet in Rhode Island FC history. The efforts earned him a call to the USL Championship Team of the Week in two consecutive match weeks. Lee initially got the nod when RIFC's first-ever signing and club captain Koke Vegas left the pitch injured in the club's 2-2 draw with Monterey Bay F.C. The unfortunate turn of events paved the way for Lee's professional debut, and the 22-year-old has since impressed at Beirne Stadium, coming up with late stoppage-time saves in each of the club's last two league matches.

Koke Vegas made his return to the bench in RIFC's Open Cup loss after being sidelined with a hamstring injury, and the RIFC captain is nearing a return to action in the USL Championship. With Lee riding a 180-minute streak without conceding a goal in league play and veteran starter and captain Vegas getting back to full health, Khano Smith's goalkeeping unit will be among the strongest it has ever been when the club arrives in Las Vegas.

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