The Lights FC somehow made a 0-0 tie look impressive Monday.
On the road, on short rest, minus a head coach and technical director and down to 10 men for all but 18 minutes, the Lights pulled out a point at the first Real Monarchs SLC game at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah.
The performance was both unspectacular and understandable given the circumstances. An early red card forced the team to retreat on defense. Defender Marcello Alatorre pulled down midfielder Mastanabal Kacher just outside the box to prevent him from running toward the goal unchecked, forcing the Lights (2-1-3) to change their game plan early.
“We got a red card really early, but the team really dug down,” midfielder Carlos Alvarez said. “We were not easy to break, and we got a point that we really had to work for. Getting a point on the road is huge.”
The team still had one good chance in the 84th minute when midfielder Daigo Kobayashi’s long shot hit the post and forward Sammy Ochoa dove to send the subsequent rebound into the net. Ochoa was called offsides however, and the Lights spent most of the rest of the game just trying to kill the clock.
The team had to adjust on the fly without technical director Jose Luis Sanchez Sola and coach Isidro Sanchez, who were both suspended by the United Soccer League for unspecified actions during Friday’s 3-1 loss to San Antonio FC at Cashman Field. The length of the suspensions will be determined by the league later this week.
“We have spoken to multiple witnesses of the alleged action, and we remain confident that when the facts of the case are ultimately heard, the truth of the situation will result in a minimal impact,” owner Brett Lashbrook said in a statement. “Our club is proud to have (Sola) and Isidro as part of the Lights FC family.”
Esad Morina was named the Lights’ interim coach, though strength and conditioning coach Ricardo Barrios appeared to be the one shouting instructions against the Monarchs (4-1-1). Sola and Sanchez were still with the team in Utah as well.
Whoever was calling the shots, they led the Lights to their first shutout on offense and defense this season.
“For almost 80 minutes we played short one man, and it was very hard,” defender Miguel Garduno said. “We were very organized, I think that helped us to know we couldn’t make us any mistakes. We were very careful with the fouls, and at the end, we almost scored.”