Las Vegas, NV – The Las Vegas Lights opened their 2019 USL campaign on Saturday night in front of 8,017 faithful soccer fans at Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas, playing to a 0-0 draw against the visiting Austin Bold FC. Although the game was clearly quite entertaining and the Lights’ skillful playmakers in midfield dominated possession and controlled the game throughout, the Austin side decided early to commit to a rather defensive style by packing a lot of defenders, most of their midfielders and even some forwards at time back behind the ball, at times seeming to frustrate the attack-minded Lights club. Furthermore, the game officials appeared to have missed a few obvious penalty calls that would have benefited the home team, much to the Lights’ chagrin.
The 40th minute would see Gabe Robinson lob a long ball ahead for Irvin Parra, who was able to show deft control in corralling the pass, but ultimately couldn’t settle the ball on his second touch, losing it out of bounds inside the box.
Moments later, Christian Torres would bring the Lights faithful to their feet again, when his shot of the left foot sailed just over the Bold goal at the 41st minute, in what was likely one of the Lights’ best scoring chances of the games first 45 minutes. Later in the half, Parra would be given a stern talking to, and booked by the referee as he earned a yellow card on another dubious call just before the half.
After the game, Parra stated that “We did what we could, but the opponent just sat back, just waited for mistakes. They (Austin) did their job, they took two points away from us, basically. But its a long season, there’s a lot of things that we can learn from, some good plays, and most of the time; we were the attacking team.” In regards to the rather dubious calls made by the referee, Parra stated that “We can’t argue against the refs. The refs are trying to do their job, just like we are trying to do our job, I understand and I respect that. There’s always positivity on this team, I felt great with our team, we dominated possession 80% of the time, it was an ugly game, but sometimes, soccer isn’t pretty. We got a point, and a shutout, so there’s positive things there.”
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Lights FC supporters were given a scare at the 65th minute when Austin’s Callum Mallace sent a rocket shot that goalkeeper Thomas Olsen had to lunge to his left to punch away from danger and preserve his clean sheet. Second half substitute Tabort Etaka Preston alsmost made his skipper’s decision pay off with instant dividends in the 73rd minute but his cross intended for teammate was intercepted by Austin goalie Diego Restrepo who didn’t hesitate to come off his line.
In the 80th minute Olsen would duplicate his opposite number’s dominance of the area in front of his goal, as he impressively pounced on a well-placed Clayton Adams pass inside the 6-yard box.
After the game skipper Eric Wynalda was clearly not happy with how the game unfolded, but for his part still preferred to put a positive spin on his team’s performance, despite the frustrating result, saying “I wouldn’t say they (just) parked the bus (in front of the Austin goal), I think that this will probably be a common occurrence, that team’s will come here making a concerted effort to get as many bodies behind the ball as possible, so they made it very hard for our forwards,” before adding his belief that “we need to get rewarded for being the better team tonight. So walking away with 0-0 (result), we’re (obviously) dissappointed, but at the end of the day, I think there’ll be some self-reflection on the referees end, too.”
Thomas Olsen earned the clean sheet for the home team, and after the game stated that “I think our defense played well, I thought we communicated well, I don’t think we were ever really in danger. All in all, I think we played solid.”
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Don’t forget Lights FC return to action in their next Cashman Field home game against Real Monarchs FC on Saturday, March 30th. Pre-game festivities will begin approximately two hours prior to the 7:30 pm kickoff.
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