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Lights FC Ushers in New Era with Sellout Crowd

By Staff, 02/11/18, 3:45AM EST


10,387 fans pack Cashman Field for club’s opening game against Impact

Photo courtesy L.E. Baskow / Las Vegas Lights FC

LAS VEGAS – A crowd of 10,387 was on hand to usher in a new era of professional soccer at Cashman Field on Saturday night as Las Vegas Lights FC fell 2-0 to Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact in its first preseason contest of its inaugural season. Two goals in three minutes gave the MLS side victory on the night, but the result was secondary to the scene in the stands and on the field as Lights FC held their own with Montreal for much of the contest.

“The difference between an MLS and USL team, that's a positive thing for us –  we are a USL team, and in very, very long periods of the game, you couldn't tell who was the MLS and who was the USL team,” Lights FC head coach Chelís said. “Our team has this big personality and wants to face anything, any opponent. They have the desire, they have the energy. We have to give a spectacle, but with a serious, responsible way of play.”

The turning point in the contest arrived just past the hour-mark, when Montreal’s Michael Salazar knocked home the opening goal of the night. An own goal followed two minutes later, and Lights FC was forced to play a man down for the match's final 22 minutes after Goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño was given a red card in the 68th minute.

Until that point, however, Ferriño had been one of Lights FC’s stellar performers as he made a number of good saves behind a back line that looked solid for the opening hour. Even while a man down, Lights FC was able to create a few quality scoring opportunities as it tried to get back into the game.

“We wanted to possess the ball and play on the floor, on the ground,” Lights FC defender Marcelo Alatorre said. “In the end, it was long balls. We didn't know much about Montreal. It's an MLS team, they play very hard and very physical. We were fighting for every ball, trying to win the ball and find those spaces. We had several opportunities, I'm surprised the final score was what it was. We can still improve, and there's time to make adjustments before the [USL regular season] begins in March.”

Photo courtesy L.E. Baskow / Las Vegas Lights FC

While the performance provided the club something to build on, the magic in the stands from the sellout crowd was the lasting image of the night as Lights FC played in front of a passionate home crowd that showed up early and maintained energy throughout.

For Las Vegas’ players, led by those who grew up as part of the city’s soccer community, it was hardly a surprise.

“Before the starting 11 took the field, we looked and said, “look at this environment we're in,’” Lights FC midfielder and Las Vegas product Julian Portugal said. ‘It was really motivating. This is what I was expecting. The Vegas community has wanted pro soccer for a long time. I knew it would be a packed house. I had a lot of friends and family in the stands. I couldn't even see them.”

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