Match preview: Las Vegas Lights FC at Phoenix Rising FC


Las Vegas Lights FC goalkeeper Tomas Romero

Alejandro Cuevas Rodriguez, Sports/Opinion Writer

The Las Vegas Lights FC (0W-0D-2L) have had a tough start to the 2021 USL Championship season; having lost 5-0 to the Los Angeles Galaxy II and 3-1 to Sacramento Republic. They’ll be looking to redeem themselves this Saturday when they visit Phoenix Rising FC (2W-0D-1L).

Receiving young players on loan from Los Angeles FC will be key for the Lights in order for them to stay competitive in this match against the best team in the western conference. Attacker Danny Musovski, midfielder Bryce Duke, and midfielder Daniel Crisostomo give the Lights some hope on the field with their communication and passing, but the defense still needs help.

The Lights seemed poised to take the win against Sacramento when they equalized the game, and they even had 54% ball possession in comparison to Sacramento’s 46%. This was a massive improvement over the 5-0 loss to Galaxy II, and the Lights recorded 13 shots in the game vs. Sacramento.

But, they still fall short defensively. Head coach Steve Cherundolo has had a week and a half to train his players, and chemistry within the backline is key. But most importantly, the Lights need a leader within the defense. 

Phoenix and Sacramento both have incredibly fast-paced attacks, and the current set of young and inexperienced defenders just can’t keep up with them. This is what led to Sacramento’s second goal; the defenders easily got distracted by the movement of the ball instead of just marking their attackers or staying within their positions.

The Lights are going to need someone like Tristan Blackmon or Mark-Anthony Kaye within the backline to provide them with that experience and leadership that the defenders need, especially against a team like Phoenix Rising which has unforgiving attackers like Solomon Asante, Rufat Dadashov, and Santi Moar.

Players to Watch

Danny Musovski: 2 shots and 1 goal, 89% pass success

Daniel Crisostomo: 71/82 passes complete (87% success), 3 tackles, 3 interceptions

Bryce Duke: 5 recoveries, 6 duels won, 3 shots

Cal Jennings: 3 duels won, 3 recoveries

FiveThirtyEight Prediction

Phoenix: 80%

Las Vegas: 7%

Tie: 14%