Match Preview vs. Phoenix Rising FC
Las Vegas, NV - After getting back to back wins for the first time in franchise history, Lights FC will take their positive momentum on the road for a tough challenge against the defending Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising FC.
"Over the last couple games, it's clear that we're playing better as a team and we have a better understanding on the field positionally", said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "Going to Phoenix is the biggest test that we're going to have thus far, because of their quality and the fact that we haven't been able to really play well on the road. This is a great test for us to see if we can finally figure out a way to get some points in a very difficult situation". This matchup became one of the better rivalries that Lights FC picked up in their 2018 inaugural season. s Vegas and Phoenix are only 300 miles apart, plus both teams are top-10 in attendance with Lights FC ranking fifth (average 7,887 per game) and Rising FC being number nine (average 6,547 per game).
"It's a good rivalry and they're a good team that went to the USL Cup final last year," stated Lights FC forward Sammy Ochoa, who scored the final goal in the 5-2 victory Las Vegas had over Rising FC on October 10. "We're gonna go with a mindset to get points. Arizona is a tough place to play in, but we're ready and focused to get points there".
The two teams with the most shots taken in the 2019 USL Championship season will face off in this match, with Lights FC leading the league with 175 shots and Phoenix is right behind them with 173. Both teams have scored 18 goals this year.
"Fans can expect a lot of goals and a lot of opportunities from both teams," said Lights FC midfielder Cristhian 'Tripa' Hernandez. "We've been working on controlling the possession and creating great chances that leave us in a good position to score".
Vegas-Born goalkeeper Thomas Olsen has five clean sheets in 10 games this season, that's more shutouts than the 4 that Lights FC had in their inaugural year.
SATURDAY'S OPPONENT: PHOENIX RISING FC
After getting draws in their first three home games, Phoenix is riding a 2 match win streak at Casino Arizona Field after defeating Tacoma 4-0 and RGV 3-1. Rick Schantz took over the reigns of Rising FC as their interim head coach on June 10th last year, this after the departure of former manager Patrice Carteron. Schantz led Phoenix to the USL Cup Final, where they lost 1-0 to Louisville City. Due to his success, the club removed the interim tag from his title ahead of the 2019 season. Rising FC has four players who have scored at least 3 goals this season, led by former MLS striker Adam Jahn with 5. Goalkeeper Zac Lubin has gotten the start for Phoenix in their last 7 games, where he has accumulated 4 clean sheets. Mobi Fehr has become "Mr. Reliable" for Lights FC, being able to play in practically any position in the midfield or defense.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY'S MATCH:
CONSECUTIVE WINS In its inaugural year, Lights FC wasn't able to get back to back wins. That has changed with Eric Wynalda at the helm, with s Vegas earning 3 victories in a row in all competitions against Sacramento and Colorado Springs in league play, plus versus Cal FC in the US Open Cup.
OPEN CUP VICTORY
s Vegas sealed their ticket into the Third Round of the US Open Cup by defeating Cal FC 2-0. Lights FC will now face NPSL squad Orange County FC, who got an upset win in a penalty kick shootout against USL Championship side Orange County SC.
Lights FC will host Orange County FC at Cashman Field on Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 p.m., the winner will advance to the Fourth Round, where a total of 21 MLS teams will enter the competition.
Both offensively and defensively, Lights FC is taking care of business. s Vegas is the team with most shots taken in USL Championship with a total of 175, sending 18 of them to the back of the net which has them as the sixth highest scoring offense in the league.
Meanwhile, defensively Lights FC is tied for second in USL Championship with a total of five clean sheets. s Vegas has conceded 14 goals, which is sixth best in the Western Conference.
Lights FC is one of four teams in USL Championship with at least 5 clean sheets, out of them Lights FC is the only one with more than 15 goals scored.
THOMAS "TKO" OLSEN
The s Vegas-born & raised goalkeeper had key saves against Switchbacks FC that contributed to the team getting the victory, including one early in the first half where the score was tied 0-0.
'TKO' is tied for second in the league with five clean sheets, which is one more than the number of times Lights FC shutout their opponents in a total of 38 games in 2018. His 24 total saves have him tied for eighth best in USL Championship.
Cristhian Hernandez has become the anchor of Lights FC's midfield, being the team leader in chances created in their last four games with a total of 16. He's tied with Irvin Raul Parra for a team-best 3 assists.
DYNAMIC DUO: JAVAN + GABE
The backfield duo of Javan Torre and Gabe Robinson have made Lights FC's defense a solid one in the first third of the 2019 season.
Both players have taken advantage of their 6'2" height to clear opportunities by their opponents and as the first line of attack from goalkeeper Thomas Olsen, they're a huge part of the team having clean sheets in half of their games this year.
MOBI "MR. RELIABLE" FEHR
Ever since being added to Lights FC's roster, Mobi Fehr hasn't missed a game. He immediately won over manager Eric Wynalda's confidence for his ability to adapt to any circumstance and being able to step in at multiple positions needed for the team, both ahead of a game and during a match.
He has been a starter in the last nine matches, competing in every minute of the game in 8 of them.
Since his return from offseason surgery, Sammy Ochoa has showed his consistency that has earned him a spot in the professional ranks for the last 13 years.
Ochoa has scored three goals for Lights FC in 6 matches, all of them with headers, including in the two games s Vegas has played in the last week against Colorado Springs in league play and Cal FC in the US Open Cup.
SANDOVAL FITS RIGHT IN
In the four games since he arrived to Lights FC on April 16, Junior Sandoval has been a fixture on the team's Starting XI and has played the full match in three of them.
The Honduran scored his first goal with s Vegas against Sacramento Republic as he fired a rocket shot from 30 yards out that found the back of the net. It ended up being voted USL Championship's Goal of the Week for week 9.
IRVIN RAUL PARRA
For the second time this season, Parra scored multiple goals in a match to lead Lights FC to victory after he notched a brace versus Colorado Springs.
He's Lights FC leading scorer with 7 goals, which is second best in USL Championship. Meanwhile, Parra is tied for the team lead with Cristhian "Tripa" Hernandez as both have 3 assists.
Parra is one of only two players in the league that has at least 7 goals AND 3 or more assists. Irvin Raul also leads USL Championship with a total of 39 shots taken, Brian Brown from Reno 1868 FC is second place with 29 shots.
Four Lights FC players have been in the team's starting lineup for every USL Championship game in the 2019 season: Thomas Olsen, Gabe Robinson, Javan Torre, and Irvin Parra. Out of them, only Olsen and Robinson have been on the pitch for every minute the team has played.
INJURY REPORT Bryan de la Fuente - OUT - Lower Body Injury Eric Gonzalez capitalized on the opportunity presented to him after Christian Torres got injured against Galaxy II, being the left back to start in Lights FC's victories against Sacramento and Colorado Springs.
HERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW AHEAD OF SATURDAY'S MATCH VS. PHOENIX RISING FC:
s Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow along every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets. Saturday's game (7:30 p.m. kickoff) will be broadcasted locally on MyLVTV with BetCast being broadcast from the VSIN studios at the South Point Hotel & Casino. Lights FC Insider Harry Ruiz will handle play by play duties, accompanied by Matthew Holt providing the inside scoop about in-game betting, plus Lights FC on-field hype-man and local radio personality Bojo Ackah. The match will also be streamed onESPN+ , and the Spanish-language radio broadcast, with Alvaro Puentes & Alejandro Romo, can be listened to on ESPN Deportes 1460 AM & online on LVSportsNetwork .?
Images from this story
Vegas-Born goalkeeper Thomas Olsen has five clean sheets for Las Vegas Lights FC in 10 games this season
Mobi Fehr has become "Mr. Reliable" for Las Vegas Lights FC
Eric Gonzalez with Las Vegas Lights FC
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