Last Saturday night, the Lights FC coaching staff looked at a 1-1 draw vs. in-state rival Reno 1868 FC as a loss of two points, rather than the gain of one point in the early season USL Western Conference standings.
The main reason for the glass-half-empty outlook was the amount of unfinished scoring opportunities the club compiled in the second half, while playing with the whipping winds at Cashman Field in its favor and a one-man advantage for the final 20 minutes.
Tonight, the league’s highest-scoring outfit and two-time defending Western Conference champions – Swope Park Rangers – comes to town for an 8 p.m. start on Lights FC’s home turf.
The numbers on each side to this point show that there could be goals galore come tonight, but that can’t happen for the home club without finishing those similar opportunities that were lost a week ago.
“The main thing is just controlling what we can control – I feel like we’re there, it’s just pushing the ball in,” Lights FC midfielder Carlos Alvarez said. “We were a little unlucky this past weekend, but me personally, I’m a big believer of you create your own luck, so it’s just pushing the ball to the net and finishing.
“I feel like we have a great group, and we haven’t lost. If you see the table, we’re in third place. Any team will take that (after two games) right away. It’s about being positive and continuing to work.”
Swope Park (2-0-0, 6 points) has scored eight goals in two matches, including four off the foot of 25-year-old forward Kharlton Belmar. Meanwhile, the statistical trends indicate that Lights FC (1-0-1, 4 points) could be due for an offensive breakout.
After scoring three goals on only nine shots on goal in a season-opening win at Fresno FC, Lights FC battled through windy conditions last Saturday in the home opener to create 19 shots on goal, with only one ball finding the back of the net. The incomplete opportunities were highlighted by a header by Juan Carlos Garcia in the final seconds of added time, which was turned away via a highlight-worthy save by Reno’s JT Marcinkowski.
“I think it’s just a matter of time before the guys up top get going and start scoring some goals,” said Lights FC forward Sammy Ochoa, who had six of those 19 shots last Saturday night. “This is going to be a good game, I don’t think it’s going to be 0-0. There will be a lot of goals, and hopefully we come out on top.”
Completing those balls targeted into the middle in front of the goal has been a primary focus for the club throughout the week.
With friendlier weather conditions than last week expected in Downtown Las Vegason Saturday night, the club is out to reward the loyalty of the fans, who have consistently shown up for the team’s first four matches at Cashman Field.
After drawing a crowd of 9,019 for the showdown with Reno last Saturday, the team is now averaging more than 8,000 fans per match over its first four home dates, including its three preseason games vs. Major League Soccer competition.
“We have a very good opportunity. There are people taking notice of what we’re doing, and we’re doing it competitively, “Lights FC head coach Isidro Sánchez said. “When the players arrive (to Cashman Field), they see the crowd and they realize really quick that ‘Oh, this is important,’ and (the fans) deserve something great. Everything gets bigger to us when we see them at the stadium, because this is all for them.”
Single-game tickets are available and start at just $15, with the first 5,000 fans to enter receiving a print of the 2018 Lights FC team photo, sponsored by Denny’s and photographed with permission at The Neon Museum, Las Vegas. To purchase, call 702.728.4625 or visit LightsFC.com/SingleTix.