Big-time, inspired offensive explosions are now becoming a welcomed regular summer 2018 occurrence at Cashman Field. In its second and final home match of June, Las Vegas Lights FC lit up the scoreboard for the second time, this time with a 4-1 victory on Saturday night over Seattle Sounders 2 in front of 6,785 fans (Photo credit: L.E. Baskow / Lights FC).
Two first half goals by Sammy Ochoa set the tone, and the flair was added by debuting goalkeeper Angel Alvarez, who made a handful of key early saves and even added an assist on a Joel Huiqui score.
“The work we do during the week, the work I’ve been doing, I think it’s finally paying off,” said Ochoa, who scored his first three goals of the season in the club’s last two home matches combined. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”
There was added motivation all over the place for Lights FC (4-5-4, 16 points) on Saturday night.
For Ochoa and four other starters, it was being able to bring their kids onto the pitch with them during Starting XI introductions.
For Alvarez, it was looking into the stands and seeing his parents’ happiness as he made his first USL start at just 20 years old.
For the entire team, it was a sign posted in the locker room by Head Coach Isidro Sánchez that had one word in large print – in three languages – “Responsibility.”
“Today was that moment – This was the time to stop being the victim, or looking outside,” Sánchez said. “When you are responsible, you handle your future. That’s what I tried to encourage our players to do.”
They handled it with authority almost right from the opening kick.
Ochoa’s first goal came on an aggressive charge up front, collecting a loose ball off of a goalkeeper deflection and blasting it home in the 17th minute. His second was another hustle play in the 35th minute, when he deflected a goal kick and created an easy chance to double up Lights FC’s lead.
The avalanche kept rolling in spectacular fashion just before the half, as captain Joel Huiqui’s third goal of the season came easy as a result of the club’s first goalkeeper assist of the season.
Angel Alvarez drove a goal kick from outside of his own box more than 50 yards downfield, overshooting the entire Sounders 2 defense and finding Huiqui for an easy one-touch-and-score.
It was the cherry on top of a huge night for the keeper who just a couple of years ago was playing just down the street at Rancho High School.
Alvarez stopped six of seven shots he faced, including three beautiful close-range stops up close in the first half while his team built its advantage. The start came in place of Ricardo Ferriño, who served a one-match suspension for yellow card accumulation.
“I’m very humbled and thankful for the opportunity to play today,” Alvarez said. “It’s just an extra motivation, looking in the stands, seeing my parents there, knowing all the sacrifices they made when I was in middle school, high school, taking me to soccer practices, giving me money to go to tournaments out of state.
“I don’t have any words for what I’m feeling.”
Sounders 2’s (3-8-2, 11 points) one goal came from Ray Saari in first half stoppage time, but Lights FC would make it up in the opening minutes of the second half with the final score of the night.
Fittingly, it was a left-footed strike from Zach Mathers, who played for Sounders 2 the last two seasons, which found the back of the net for his first goal with Lights FC in just his third match with the club.
It was the club’s second 4-1 victory in as many tries at home in June. And though Lights FC won’t be back at Cashman Field again until Saturday, July 7, against Saint Louis FC, there will be important road matches in between.
First up is next Sunday against Swope Park Rangers (7-3-4, 25 points), who was the first team Lights FC beat in USL play back on March 31 at Cashman Field.
Swope Park will be hungry for revenge, but Lights FC heads to Kansas City in good form and an even better mindset.
“Tactically, if you watched how we prepared, you may laugh,” Sánchez said. “Yesterday, (Technical Director) Chelís got with the 11 starters and they just talked. No movements, no ball, no nothing. But when the lion is hurt, then there is the desire to do these things, and if you analyze how we scored, it was just about this desire – Being on time, being brave.”
LIGHTS FC 2018 TICKET INFO
Single-game tickets for all USL regular season matches are on sale, starting at just $15. Purchase today by visiting LightsFC.com/
SingleTix or by calling 702.728.GOAL (4625) during regular business hours. Tickets are also available for purchase at all La Bonita Supermarket locations in the Las Vegas valley.
Lights FC 2018 season tickets are also still on sale, starting at just $90 for the remaining 9 home-match schedule. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are also now on sale, starting at just $18 per ticket, with each ticket purchased including a free Lights FC scarf (valued at $20). For more ticketing inquiries, visit LightsFC.com.