LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas Lights FC took its third consecutive home victory on Saturday night, and arguably its biggest win of the season so far, as it defeated Sacramento Republic FC in front of 7,487 fans at Cashman Field. Here are three takeaways from the contest.
TRIPA TURNS IT ON: It’s fair to say there was little to no electricity from Lights FC’s attack in the first half. The hosts registered just two shots – both off target – and while Republic FC didn’t really create anything major at the other end it was clear the visitors were on top. Then Las Vegas Head Coach Eric Wynalda introduced Cristhian 'Tripa' Hernandez moments after Republic FC had taken the lead, and while the effect might not have been immediate, it swung things Lights FC’s way in the second half.
“Tripa absolutely change the game,” said Wynalda. “Every touch was magical tonight. We love playing here, we were so lethargic in the first 50 minutes. We love playing here and we weren't even ourselves. The fans brought us back into it.”
Lights FC recorded 14 shots in the final 35 minutes of the game, which included a blitz of three goals in eight minutes to answer Sacramento’s opener early in the second half. That display put Lights FC on course to victory as a festive crowd got an early Cinco de Mayo celebration going.
PARRA PULLS HIS WEIGHT: Arguably the highest-profile addition this offseason by Lights FC, Irvin Parra has had to carry a pretty major load in the attack, but the former Orange County SC standout produced once again within the comeback victory. Parra’s precise finish to level the score in the 67th minute was followed by a nice delivery into the feet of Santiago Echaverria for a turning shot that made it a two-goal game with 15 minutes to go. The first player to record double-digit goals and assists in the Championship’s history two seasons ago, Parra is now up to five goals and three assists so far this season, well on course to match his previous feat of a double-double this season.
SACRAMENTO'S SLUMP CONTINUES: The loss not only sent Sacramento Republic FC to its third consecutive game without a win, but also saw the side slide below the playoff line in the Western Conference. There might have been questions on a tight offside call that denied Ray Saari a second goal before Lights FC’s rally began, but Sacramento just didn’t seem to create quite enough danger overall given the upper hand it held throughout the first half. Add in an uncharacteristic error by Josh Cohen on a corner kick that allowed Las Vegas’ Gabe Robinson to clean up for the go-ahead goal and things did not go at all according to play for Head Coach Simon Elliott. With two massive rivalry games this week on the road at undefeated Fresno FC and at home against Reno 1868 FC, Sacramento is going to need to put this result behind it quickly.