Match Preview vs. Portland Timbers II
Las Vegas, NV - After completing a three-game California road trip, Lights FC finally returns home. Las Vegas will play their only match at Cashman Field in the month of August by hosting Portland Timbers II on Saturday, August 24 at 7:30 p.m. In their first meeting this season, Las Vegas was defeated on the road 3-1 by Portland back in March.
"Different team, different part of the season," said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. "I think it was so far in the past we won't even look at it as what to expect from Portland, whose coming off of a 4-2 loss at home to OKC. We watched that game, we watched the game previous to that and they have some very talented players. But whoever they put on the field, it's going to be a long day for them."
Cashman Field has been Lights FC's safe haven, losing only one match on their home pitch in the 2019 USL Championship season, outscoring their opponents 23 to 8 in a total of 11 matches.
"This is a must-win game and the energy needs to be there," stated Wynalda. "We know that our fans will be there for us, and because of them, we play so much better at Cashman. Our focus is clearly on getting 3 points, a good result, and looking into the next game after this one is over."
This match will mark the return to the field of two of Lights FC's offensive weapons: leading scorer Irvin Raul Parra and speedster Tabort Etaka Preston. Both were uneligible to play against Orange County SC due to yellow card accumulation. Lights FC team captain Bryan De La Fuente will be available to make his regular-season debut with the team. This will be the first time De La Fuente will be on the gameday roster after recovering from an ACL tear he suffered six months ago in a preseason match against MLS side Colorado Rapids.
"I'm excited to be back and try to help the team in the last part of the season," said Bryan De La Fuente. "It has been three weeks that I've been with the team full time with no restrictions at practice and I've felt pretty good. Now it's a matter of getting playing time and fitness. You can't get just cleared and go right into playing. You have to get used to the space and contact again. So playing with my teammates and friendly games here and there is helping me get ready for when the coach wants me to play."
Rodolfo Zelaya, second-highest goalscorer in El Salvador National Team history, has been confirmed to be a part of Lights FC's gameday roster against Portland Timbers II. 'Fito' played his first game for Las Vegas on the road against Orange County SC, playing 81 minutes as a starter where he led the team with 3 shots taken and 2 shots on target. That match marked the return of Canadian National Team veteran Dejan Jakovic to Lights FC, who was recalled by LAFC after being on loan with Las Vegas for three games in June.
"We put Dejan and Fito in a tough spot, coming in as starters without ever training with the team", said Wynalda. "But both of their performances were pretty good and they're great additions to help us with our playoffs push." Javan Torre is part of Lights FC's defensive unit that has only allowed 8 goals at Cashman Field this season.
SATURDAY'S OPPONENT: PORTLAND TIMBERS II
Portland Timbers II is currently tied for tenth place in USL Championship's Western Conference with 32 points. This will be their second road game in five weeks, with their most recent one being a 2-2 draw against Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
In his first season coaching the team, manager Cameron Knowles led them to the 2018 USL playoffs where they lost 3-0 in the quarterfinals against eventual Western Conference champions Phoenix Rising.
Timbers II ranks as the fifth-best scoring offense in USL Championship with 45 goals, led by Colombia native Dairon Asprilla with 7 scores. Asprilla has only played with the team once in the last two months, as he is a member of MLS side Portland Timbers' roster. T2 has a total of four more players with at least 5 goals this season: Foster Langsorf (6), Todd Wharton (5), Ryan Sierakowski (5), and Brayan Hurtado (5).
Jake Leeker is the most used goalkeeper by Portland, playing in a total of 12 games where he allowed 19 goals. But he hasn't seen action since July 13 in a 1-0 road defeat against Sacramento. Slovenian goalie Alijaz Ivacic, who is part of MLS Portland Timbers 30-man Active Roster, allowed 8 goals as the starter for Timbers 2 in their last 3 matches. Lights FC defender Gabe Robinson is third-best in USL Championship's Western Conference with 117 clearances. He has been voted twice to the league's Team of the Week.
LIGHTS FC NOTES HEADING INTO SATURDAY'S MATCH:
Lights FC struck a loan deal with LAFC to add Rodolfo Zelaya to its roster. Zelaya is one of the most decorated players in El Salvador soccer history, earning 44 caps with his national team where his 21 goals have him trailing only Raúl Díaz Arce as his country's top goalscorer. He played vital roles for El Salvador in the 2011 and 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cups, where he scored 4 goals in each.
Winner of four championships in the Salvadoran first division with league titans Alianza FC, he scored a total of 126 goals in his time with the club. Zelaya springboarded from his native country to play in Mexico for Club Leon, in Russia with FC Alianza Vladikavkaz and eventually signing in January 2019 with Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC.
STRONG AT HOME
Lights FC is more than happy to return to Cashman Field for what will be their second home match in a two-month span. Las Vegas has shown their best football while playing in front of their fans, where in eleven games they have 6 wins, 4 draws, and only one loss. The Lights have outscored their opponents at Cashman by a combined 23 goals to 8.
Even though after Saturday night Las Vegas will have two consecutive matches on the road, Lights FC has a three-game homestand in the horizon with El Paso Locomotive FC visiting Cashman Field on Saturday, September 7 for Helicopter Money Drop 2.0 Night, defending Western Conference Champions Phoenix Rising FC will be in town on Wednesday, September 11 for Tribute to Local Heroes Night, and on Saturday, September 14 Lights FC will host Fresno FC on Hispanic Heritage Night.
IRVIN RAUL PARRA
With his diving header game-winning goal against RGV FC, Parra reached 10 goals in the 2019 season, becoming the second Lights FC player with double-digit goals in a single season while being the fastest one to do so in only 18 games. The Inglewood native is currently ranked sixth-best in goals scored in USL Championship's Western Conference.
He is now tied with Sammy Ochoa and Raul Mendiola as the leading scorers in franchise history with 10 each. Irvin Raul Parra currently leads Las Vegas not only in goals (10) but also in assists with four. With his next goal or assist, he'll tie Sammy Ochoa's combined goals + assists from 2018, which led the team in its inaugural season.
The Las Vegas-born & raised goalkeeper is fifth-best in USL Championship with eight clean sheets, which is almost triple the times (3) Lights FC shutout their opponents in a total of 38 games in 2018. TKO's 63 saves are the sixth-best in the Western Conference.
Olsen is the only Lights FC player to have played every minute in USL Championship action this season with 23 full games under his belt in 2019.
THE CAPTAIN IS BACK
Slated to be a key component in Eric Wynalda's Starting XI with Las Vegas, Bryan De La Fuente suffered an ACL tear in Lights FC's final MLS Soccer Spring Training match back in February.
After working hard on his recovery for six months, De La Fuente has been cleared to play after training for three weeks full force with his squad. This game marks the first time that he won't be a part of the UMC Injury Report.
The United Soccer League and COPA90 teamed up to introduce the inaugural edition of "Supporters Week", a seven-day celebration of the communities and fanbases across the USL Championship from Saturday, August 17 through Saturday, August 24.
Lights FC received the opportunity to pick the nickname that Thomas Olsen will wear in the back of his jersey against Portland Timbers II, with "TKO" winning the poll with 54% of the votes, surpassing "Mayor of Cashman" with 39%, and "Tommy" with 7%.
Junior Sandoval - OUT - Suspension Mobi Fehr - OUT - Lower Body Injury Members from Luz y Fuerza and The Electric Company kicked off Supporters Week by traveling to Irvine, California to root on Lights FC against Orange County SC. Now they'll close Supporters Week with the first Las Vegas home match in four weeks.
** HERE IS EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW AHEAD OF SATURDAY'S MATCH VS. PORTLAND TIMBERS II:
** The "Summer of Soccer" delivered by Zappos ends this Saturday at Cashman Field, featuring the lowest-priced tickets in club history! Tickets for this game start at only $10 courtesy of the Terrible Herbst's Ten Buck Tixs, giving everyone in the Valley the opportunity to enjoy Lights FC pro soccer in Downtown Las Vegas.
** Saturday's match kicks off at 7:30 p.m., start time for all Lights FC home regular-season matches in 2019. For on-site ticket purchase at Cashman Field, both the box office and will call open at 2:00 p.m. on gameday. Tickets are available at LightsFC.com/Tix and at every La Bonita Supermarket in Las Vegas.
** The Zappos Tailgate Party begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Cashman Field plaza, where fans can enjoy beer specials, tailgate games for adults and kids, music, the Zappos llamas Dottie and Dollie, Lights FC merchandise, and much more.
** The Pitchside Pool Party will keep rolling in the two weekend home matches Lights FC has in September (9/7 vs El Paso, 9/14 vs Fresno). It features multiple "swimming pools" located pitchside to bring fans as close to the action as possible. Each pool rental is priced at $50 and can be reserved at LightsFC.com/PoolParty, calling 702-728-GOAL or by visiting the Lights FC Guest Services Booth at Cashman Field on match days.
** Fans in attendance over the age of 21 will have the opportunity to take advantage of new drink specials during the Summer of Soccer. Specially priced $2 Los Altos Tequila shots and $5 Waldo's will be available at all Cashman Field bars. Invented by Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda, a "Waldo" features any flavor of Jarritos (Wynalda's preference is Mandarina & Toronja) and Los Altos Tequila.
WHERE TO WATCH & LISTEN TO LAS VEGAS LIGHTS FC VS. PORTLAND TIMBERS II:
Las Vegas Lights FC fans will be able to follow-up along with every match of the 2019 USL Championship season via national & local media outlets.
Saturday's game (7:30 p.m. kickoff) will be aired locally on MyLVTV with broadcasters Jeff Radcliffe and Devon Kerr announcing the action.
The match will also be aired on ESPN+ , while the Spanish-language radio broadcast with Alvaro Puentes & Alejandro Romo on the call can be listened at ESPN Deportes 1460 AM & online on LVSportsNetwork.com . ?
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