L.E. Baskow / Lights FC
Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 | 11:13 p.m.
The Las Vegas Lights FC fell 2-0 to Phoenix Rising on a sweltering Saturday night at Cashman Field for its third-straight loss.
Temperatures remained over 100 degrees past the final horn at 10 p.m., forcing official-regulated hydration breaks throughout the contest. The Lights were unable to generate much offense against Phoenix and may be watching a possible playoff berth fade away.
With a record of 7-12-5 Las Vegas is eight points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 10 games remaining.
“We had three games in eight days and it was tough on the legs,” Lights midfielder Eric Avila said.
Phoenix goalie Zac Lubin made a spectacular save only 18 seconds into the game on a blast from Omar Salgado. For the rest of the contest, Las Vegas put itself in good positions near the penalty box but rarely pulled the trigger on dangerous shots.
“After the game I told their goalkeeper that he won the game in the (first) minute,” Lights coach Isidro Sánchez said. “That save he made, is the kind of save that changes everything.”
Asante Solomon gave Phoenix the lead early with a goal in the 10th minute. At only 5-foot-2, the striker is tied for ninth in the United Soccer League with 10 goals on the season.
“They have the best player in the league in Asante,” Isidro said. “There’s no doubt he’s the best player in the league.”
Lights goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño made some nice diving saves to keep Las Vegas within striking range, but Phoenix doubled its lead in the 85th minute when the Lights were called for a penalty.
Phoenix forward Kevaughn Frater cashed in by floating the penalty shot just over Ferriño to make it 2-0.
“They are a very good team and they have a lot of quick players,” Isidro said. “The first time we tried to play against them with heavy players and they are a very light team (a 4-0 loss on June 23), but this time we tried with light players.”
Even in defeat Isidro found positives from his team’s performance.
“This is the closest to my dream for the way this team plays,” he said. “I know people want results. The fans want the results and I want results for the owner, but tonight when my players turn off their lights they know they gave their all.”
The Lights outshot Phoenix 11-8 with five of the 11 shots coming from inside the box.
“I see a more solid, a more structured and a more mature team,” Isidro said. “This is the first time in 23 games that I’ve seen the team complete the same play twice consistently, so that’s important for me.”
The loss snaps a four-game winning streak at Cashman Field for the Lights, who have become quite the force at home. It’s easy to see why, as the atmosphere at the stadium was great once again.
Fans in the supporters section behind the net played instruments, sang, chanted and lit off smoke bombs throughout the game, and the rest of the 6,720 in attendance were engaged for the full 90 minutes.
“The streak is over but it’s fine because it’s so nice playing here,” Avila said. “The fans urge us to keep going on.”
The Lights wrap up the August homestand next Saturday against Fresno FC before heading North for an Aug. 28 match against rival Reno 1868 FC.