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Here's What You Need to Know as Las Vegas, Phoenix Prepare to Clash

By JOHN ARLIA - john.arlia@uslsoccer.com, 09/10/19, 5:15PM EDT

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Get the key storylines heading into Wednesday Night Soccer on ESPN3

LAS VEGAS – Phoenix Rising FC has spent most of the season in the national spotlight by accumulating the longest winning streak in the history of American professional outdoor soccer. The Western Conference leader will get another night in the limelight on Wednesday as it goes for its 19th straight victory against Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field (10:30 p.m. ET | Match Center | ESPN3) in the USL Championship Game of the Week on ESPN.

Lights FC is no stranger to playing on Wednesday nights as Head Coach Eric Wynalda’s side gears up for its third consecutive midweek clash, having earned a pair of draws on the road against Real Monarchs SLC and Tulsa Roughnecks FC over the past two weeks. Matching that result or improving upon it against Phoenix would give Las Vegas fans plenty to boast about, as well as provide a significant boost to their team’s playoff hopes.

Before the two regional rivals clash for the second time this season on Wednesday night, here are three storylines worth keeping an eye on:

  1. Rising up the Record Book

    With a 15-point cushion above second-place Fresno FC and the Championship’s regular season title essentially in the bag, Phoenix Rising FC’s main motivations now are to prepare for the postseason and rewrite the league record book. Those two tasks have seemed to go hand-in-hand as Phoenix has continued to find different ways to win games over the past month. After setting new single-season club records for wins (20) and points (65) in Saturday’s win over San Antonio FC, Rising FC can fix its eyes on FC Cincinnati’s league record of 23 wins and 77 points set a season ago. A pair of Phoenix players also have a shot at some individual records as leading scorer Solomon Asante (21 goals, 14 assists) needs just five goals and three assists over the club’s final seven games to establish new marks, while goalkeeper Zac Lubin needs three more clean sheets to surpass the record of 15 shutouts set by former Ottawa Fury FC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau in 2018.

  2. The Cashman Effect

    Las Vegas Lights FC enters Wednesday’s matchup on the back of a 3-0 home loss to El Paso Locomotive FC, which was the club’s second defeat this season at Cashman Field and just the third time it had conceded multiple goals on its home turf this campaign. While that’s not the way Lights FC goalkeeper Thomas Olsen would’ve liked to come into this match against the league’s highest-scoring team, he’s confident that his side can take lessons from its 4-0 defeat to Rising FC in May and bounce back with a strong performance as he searches for his seventh home shutout of the season.

    “In this league, anyone can beat anyone on any given night," said Olsen, who was in goal when Lights FC pulled a surprise 5-2 victory last October when the teams last met in Las Vegas. “It starts being strong defensively. We have to be organized and on the same page all game long. Obviously, a team doesn’t win that many games in a row off a fluke. They’ve got some studs and we learned that when we went there earlier in the season. But now we’re at Cashman, so anything can happen.”

  3. Irvin His Keep

    One player that certainly can make things happen for Lights FC on Wednesday night is forward Irvin Parra, who enters the match as the club’s leading scorer with 10 goals in his debut season to go with five assists. Impressively, but perhaps not surprisingly given Las Vegas’ home/road splits, nine of the goals and all five of the assists have come at Cashman Field. That’s an encouraging sign for the hosts as Parra, who could overtake Sammy Ochoa and Raul Mendiola as the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with another goal, looks to lead the line and help his side in the chase for a playoff spot.

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