TACOMA, Wash. – A goal less than a minute into the second half by Bruce El Mesmari sent Las Vegas Lights FC to a 1-0 victory against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium as the hosts were unable to break down the visiting defense as Lights FC goalkeeper Alex Rando recorded a six-save shutout in the club’s first win since July 27.
The teams exchanged chances early on as first Las Vegas’ El Mesmari fired a long-range effort that was saved by Tacoma’s Spencer Richey in the seventh minute before a minute later Alex Villanueva delivered a cross from the left for the hosts that found Alec Diaz in the center of the penalty area for a looping header toward the left side of the net that was claimed by Lights FC’s Alex Rando.
The Defiance went closer to taking the lead in the 26th minute as Marlon Vargas wove past two defenders on the right edge of the penalty area but was unable to force his narrow-angle shot past Rando at the near post. Off the ensuing corner kick by Reed Baker-Whiting, the ball popped loose in the center of the penalty area for Tom Brewitt to attempt a scissor kick that Rando didn’t claim cleanly but managed to keep out of the net.
Baker-Whiting was the next to try his luck for the hosts, but his shot from the top of the penalty area in the 38th minute drifted wide of the left post. Two minutes later, Vargas threatened again as he played Diaz into the right side of the penalty area and then continued his run into the box where the Puerto Rico international found him for a first-time shot that found the side netting wide of the right post.
Las Vegas took the lead just 23 seconds into the second half, however, as off the opening kickoff the visitors went route 1 with their attack. A long ball forward by Rando from his own penalty area was headed on by Cal Jennings into the path of El Mesmari, who drove into the right side of the penalty area and finish low at the near post.
Stung by the early goal, the Defiance tried to find a way back level quickly and six minutes later Diaz turned a finish just wide of the left post after being sent into the right side of the penalty area on a good give-and-go by Vargas. Both teams looked to attack, though, and Jennings almost added a second for the visitors in the 56th minute but couldn’t direct his shot on target under pressure from a defender and Richey as he moved off his line to narrow the shooting angle.
Tacoma almost scrambled a goal home in the 68th minute after Samuel Adeniran delivered a cross from the right side of the penalty area that Rando got a hand to but couldn’t claim. The ball came to the back post, but Villanueva’s shot was blocked behind by Las Vegas defender Julian Vazquez. Ray Serrano then fired from 20 yards through a crowd with four minutes to go for the hosts but Rando was again on hand to make a low save.
Lights FC had an opportunity to add an insurance goal in second-half stoppage time as well when Christopher Jaime found Jennings as he peeled to the right to create a passing lane before having a low shot to the left corner well saved by Richey. There was no late equalizer for the Defiance, however, as their weekend clash with Sacramento Republic FC quickly became that much more important.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Dekel Keinan, Las Vegas Lights FC – Keinan’s veteran presence helped the visitors earn their first victory since July as he recorded 11 clearances, won 7 of 10 duels and made three interceptions while completing 51 of 60 passes.
LV – Bruce El Mesmari (Cal Jennings) 46’