Lights FC coach Isidro Sanchez was hoping to get four points out of a possible nine from his team’s first three games.
He’ll have to settle for seven instead.
The Lights picked up three points and their first home win Saturday night, defeating the Swope Park Rangers 2-1 in front of an announced crowd of 7,888 at Cashman Field. The team viewed its first meeting with the two-time defending Western Conference champions as a big moment, and now it’s in a five-way tie for first in the standings.
“At the very beginning of the week, we spoke about how this was a big opportunity. Like a wagon that won’t return again,” Sanchez said. “We played very close, very near of the kind of play we are (seeking).”
The Lights (2-0-1) picked up three points against the Rangers (2-1-0) largely thanks to midfielder Carlos Alvarez, who was the team’s most dangerous player for the third straight match. With his team trailing 1-0 at halftime Alvarez equalized in the 53rd minute, grabbing a deflection off a throw-in, sidestepping a defender and firing a shot with his left foot.
He then helped the club pull ahead in the 71st minute when he raced to put pressure on Swope Park defender Colton Storm and forced an own goal. That was enough for the Lights to earn their first comeback after facing their first deficit of the season.
“The guys would die on the field for each other,” Alvarez said. “In the second half, you saw the competition. We scored, we were smart with the ball.”
The Lights’ two second-half goals came when the team was facing its supporters’ section, meaning all seven of its preseason and regular-season scores have come on that side of the field.
“The supporters are the main thing,” Alvarez said. “Obviously, today, they were big out there and you could feel the 12th man on the field.”
The Rangers’ goal came in the 18th minute, when captain Rodrigo Saravia grabbed a loose ball at the top of the box and scored. But Swope Park’s potent offense, which scored eight goals in the team’s first two games, generated little after that despite dominating possession in the first half.
The Rangers controlled the ball two-thirds of the time before intermission, but the Lights decided to play higher in the second half and flipped momentum. The team generated plenty of pressure playing right in front of their supporters’ section, which featured a llama mask, and coasted into a bye week with a win.
“We are very glad with the development of the team,” Sanchez said. “Having seven points of nine, it’s a good platform to work on the confidence of the players.”