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Emrah Klimenta leads quartet of new Lights FC signings

By Staff, 02/13/24, 1:00PM EST


Championship title-winner joined by Christian Pinzón, Joe Hafferty, Coleman Gannon as roster grows

Las Vegas Lights FC has signed former Championship title-winner Emrah Klimenta among four new arrivals at the club announced on Tuesday. | Photo courtesy Liza Rosales / Orange County SC

LAS VEGAS – Las Vegas Lights FC announced on Tuesday four new additions as defenders Emrah Klimenta and Joe Hafferty and midfielders Christian Pinzón and Coleman Gannon join the squad for the 2024 USL Championship season. The transactions are pending league and federation approval.

“We are excited to welcome a group of players who between them bring experience and great on-field qualities to the club,” said Lights Sporting Director Gianleonardo Neglia. “Emrah Klimenta has been a fixture in the league for the past decade and Joe Hafferty is coming off a breakout campaign to join him in the back line, while both Christian Pinzón and Coleman Gannon will bring excellent attacking instincts as midfielders.”

Klimenta arrives as one of the USL Championship’s most experienced players, having made 226 appearances across the regular season and playoffs in his career while logging 18,512 minutes of action. A former Montenegro international, the 32-year-old center back won the USL Championship title in 2014 with Sacramento Republic FC and most recently competed for Oakland Roots SC, where he spent the past two-and-a-half seasons.

Hafferty returns to the USL Championship after an outstanding season for Austin FC II in MLS NEXT Pro in which he was voted to the league’s Best XI and helped his side win the MLS NEXT Pro title. The 25-year-old made 31 appearances for Austin last season between the regular season and playoffs and won 40 tackles at a 64.5 percent success rate while also making 33 interceptions and 172 recoveries. He had previously made 10 appearances in the Championship for Tacoma Defiance after his rights were acquired by Seattle Sounders FC following the 2021 MLS SuperDraft from Inter Miami CF.

Pinzón has recorded 10 goals and three assists in 35 appearances in the USL Championship over the past two seasons while competing for Rio Grande Valley FC. The 25-year-old joined the Toros midway through the 2022 season and sparked a run during the second half of the regular season that carried the club into the USL Championship Playoffs. Prior to joining RGVFC, the California native had competed for CD Tapatio in Mexico’s Liga de Expansion. 

Gannon also returns to the Championship after playing a key role in Columbus Crew 2 advancing to the MLS NEXT Pro Final this past season. The 21-year-old recorded six goals and five assists for Crew 2 while posting a passing accuracy rate of 85.1 percent and notching 27 chances created. Gannon had previously played in the Championship for Atlanta United 2 as a USL Academy signing across the 2020 and 2021 seasons and notched three goals and two assists in 1,481 minutes. A former Indiana University recruit, Gannon elected to forgo his college eligibility and turn pro with Crew 2 in 2022.

Las Vegas Lights FC will kick off the new campaign on Saturday, March 9 when it visits Memphis 901 FC before its home opener against FC Tulsa on Saturday, March 16 at Cashman Field. 

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