Friday night soccer returns to Weidner Field this week for the first time in 2018 when the Las Vegas Lights FC visit the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Military Appreciation Night. All fans are encouraged to Remember Everyone Deployed and wear RED to the game, with Pikes Peak Brewing Company sponsoring a free hat giveaway for the first 500 fans.
Expansion franchise Las Vegas Lights FC have started their inaugural campaign with four draws, two wins, and a lone loss at the hands of San Antonio FC on April 27th. Last Saturday, Lights FC tied the Tulsa Roughnecks 1-1 at Cashman Field in Las Vegas. A goal from midfielder Carlos Alvarez on the quarter-hour mark gave Lights FC the lead before Joaquin Rivas equalized for the Roughnecks just before the halftime break.
Alvarez leads Lights FC in goals with three, with Alex Mendoza and Joel Huiqui having both scored twice. Lights FC captain Huiqui will be suspended for the trip to Colorado Springs after the defender received his fifth yellow card of the season in the draw with the Tulsa Roughnecks. Fellow midfielder Matt Thomas is also suspended for Friday’s match at Weidner Field. Thomas was shown a red card against the Roughnecks.
Torreon, Mexico native Ricardo Ferriño has started all seven matches in net for Lights FC Head Coach Isidro Sánchez in 2018 USL regular season play. Ferriño and defender Miguel Angel Garduño enter Friday’s game just one yellow card away from triggering an automatic suspension for yellow card accumulation.
“Las Vegas are direct out of the back and we need to press them high and take that part of the game away,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “We’ve played well and we’ve said it before: we need to put these chances away and find the right combinations to do that for us. Las Vegas have a lot of cards so we have to be focused on our game and not on that part of it on Friday. The more we look at it, Friday will be interesting. Vegas want to press high, so we must take care of the ball and find a way to finally get a goal.”
“They’re a new outfit so it’ll be interesting and a good test,” said striker Marty Maybin. “Las Vegas high-press a lot and try to make it difficult for teams. We need to be patient and make sure we keep getting chances and give the fans what they want to see. We’ve been pressing teams and playing well and staying together defensively; we just need the goals and the win. They’re a good side and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with coming up here.”
Saturday’s 0-0 draw between the Switchbacks and Reno 1868 FC at Weidner Field saw the third consecutive game where the Switchbacks have been held scoreless. The Switchbacks peppered Reno’s goal – outshooting the visitors 16-5 while maintaining almost 60% possession.
“We’re looking at a few different things to give us that change right now,” said Trittschuh when asked about a potential shakeup in search of offense. “We need to find someone who is aggressive, so that’s been our focus. I leave it up to the players. Who and how we’re going to get goals…that’s what we’ve been trying to find and we’ll keep working this week and look for guys who can score. Someone needs to step up and put one away for us.”
“We need to keep creating chances and press Las Vegas and win the ball in their end,” said Luke Vercollone. “I expect them to fight and I expect us to come out on top and get that long-awaited goal that we’ve deserved. We’ve done enough to win and right now it’s not about playing pretty: it’s just about getting the result that we need at home.”
Friday’s opponents won’t have to wait long for the reverse fixture, with the Switchbacks travelling to Las Vegas’ Cashman Field on June 2nd. MLS fans will quickly recognize the name of Lights FC midfielder Daigo Kobayashi after his time with the Vancouver Whitecaps and New England Revolution. Freddy Adu has made two appearances for the Lights FC in 2018, but has not played since being withdrawn at halftime of the Lights’ 3-1 loss to San Antonio FC on April 27th.
“They do things their own way, but we have to show what we can do – getting a goal and making sure we keep playing well defensively,” said Jordan Schweitzer. “We have them at home and that’s important for the first-ever game. We played well last week – keeping the clean sheet was important. Las Vegas are a good, new team and it’s going to be a test.”
“I look for an exciting game where both teams are aggressive and play an unorthodox style,” said Shane Malcolm. “It’s their first year in the league and we’ll need to study them. It will be interesting to see how they do at altitude – that will be a big test. If we can keep pressing teams and staying strong we’ll get the goals.”
After Friday’s match the Switchbacks will head east to Taft Stadium where they face the Oklahoma City Energy FC on Saturday, May 19th. A Ziggy bobblehead giveaway, presented by Fox21 News, will await the first 500 fans on May 26th when the Switchbacks return to Weidner Field as they host Saint Louis FC.