Lights FC’s playoffs aspirations received a big breath of fresh air in the 6,000+ feet altitude of Colorado Springs. Las Vegas defeated Switchbacks FC 3-1, jumping to 38 points in the 2019 USL Championship season with three games remaining (Pictured: Irvin Raul Parra scored a brace in each of Lights FC’s matches against Colorado Springs this season).
“A lot of things went right for us tonight, the team just played extremely well,” said Lights FC manager Eric Wynalda. “We managed the game, we managed the opportunities to move forward as a group. There were some timely tackles, some great goalkeeping and at the end of the day we deserved to win.”
A hard-fought first half saw both teams split the possession of play, with Colorado Springs having the slight edge on shots 6 to 5 in the initial 45 minutes. Adam Hobbs saw his third start on goal this season for Las Vegas, with Lights FC’s goalkeeper saving both attempts on frame from Colorado Springs.
Switchbacks FC vs Lights FC Highlights
Early in the second half, Las Vegas was able to survive a clear opportunity when the ball pinballed off of Javan Torre and Gabe Robinson to land in front of Fernando Gonzalez right next to the 6-yard box. Despite getting past Adam Hobbs, the shot from the Switchbacks FC striker was stopped on the line by Javan Torre with a header, this defensive play allowed Las Vegas not having to chase the game.
Shortly afterward, Lights FC created a counterattack opportunity off of the speed of Kevin Garcia Lopez and Tabort Etaka Preston. Both flew down the right side of the field, with Garcia Lopez setting up Preston to run into the box. Preston found a wide-open Irvin Raul Parra, who opened the score in the 54th minute for Las Vegas with his 12th goal of the season.
Lights FC conceded the possession once they played with the lead, but Switchbacks FC’s best opportunity to level the score was frustrated by Adam Hobbs in the 70th minute. After a turnover in the midfield, Cesar Romero sneaked himself inside the box and had a one-on-one chance against Hobbs, who closed the angle of the Honduran striker and stopped his first shot before the second one went wide.
Ten minutes later, with Switchbacks FC pushing all the way forward, Lights FC cleared the ball from their own box and took advantage of a 2-on1 chance in the opponent’s side of the field. A perfect forward pass from Irvin Raul Parra was out of reach of the defender and allowed Tabort Etaka Preston to bury the ball in the back of the net, extending the Lights lead to 2-0.
How it had been the case the whole night, Lights FC pressured the opponents looking to generate a mistake that would pay dividends and that ended up happening in the 84th minute. Panamanian National Team member Cristian Martinez, who was subbed in during the second half, stole the ball in the box and passed it to a streaking Irvin Raul Parra who completed his brace with his 13th goal of the year.
“Before the game, Irvin (Parra) told me that he was going to get two goals and that we were going to win,” stated Wynalda. “It’s one of those situations where you don’t just laugh it off. Irvin has proven time and time again, that he is one of the most difficult forces up front in the league. When he’s on, he’s always going to give every team trouble and he’s proven that throughout the season. One of the criticisms was that he couldn’t do it on the road, but in the most important moment of the season, when we needed him the most, he delivered two goals and an assist.”
Colorado Springs avoided a clean sheet by Las Vegas with a goal by Abdul Rwatubyaye in added time. But that was just a minor dent in a 3-1 road victory that has Las Vegas dreaming of stringing a good streak of results that can increase their chances of making it to the USL Championship postseason.
“I told the guys that we hit the reset button no matter what happens after every game,” said Eric Wynalda. “We start focusing on the next one, so next is San Antonio, and that’s a six-pointer if I’ve ever seen one. It’s an opportunity for us to jump up in the table.” San Antonio currently has 41 points, three more than the Lights, and both teams are fighting for one of the final spots in USL Championship’s Western Conference playoffs.
Lights FC returns to Cashman Field for their last two regular season games at home on October 5 by hosting San Antonio FC and on October 12 in the second round of the Silver State Cup rivalry against Reno 1868 FC. Tickets are available at LightsFC.com/Tix or by calling 702-728-GOAL. The best ticket prices in town for Lights FC games can be found at every La Bonita Supermarket in the Valley.