The Lights FC looked a lot better playing someone its own size.
The Lights earned a 1-1 draw against Orange County SC in their fourth and final preseason game Friday in Irvine, California, in their first match against a fellow United Soccer League club. The team hosted Major League Soccer opponents for its first three preseason matches and was outscored 9-4.
”I think it was very important to have this last game against a USL team,” forward Anuar Kanan said. “Through the whole preseason, we played MLS teams and we didn’t really know what to expect from a USL team. But now that we played (Orange County) and we also know what it’s like playing on the road, we’re ready to start the season.”
Orange County scored first on a long shot in the 17th minute, marking the fourth time this preseason the Lights allowed the first goal. But Kanan equalized in the 77th minute after pouncing on a loose ball when Orange County’s goalkeeper couldn’t contain a Miguel Garduno header.
“The last 20, 25 minutes we were attacking them a lot,” Kanan said. “The goal came in and then we had another three or four chances that could have won the game, but we didn’t put them in. We just have to work on playing like that the whole game.”
Coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola made three changes in his starting lineup, inserting midfielders Freddy Adu and Daigo Kobayashi and goalkeeper Ricardo Ferrino. He didn’t make any changes to the back line, even though the team allowed four goals its last time out against D.C. United, and the defenders rewarded his faith.
”We paid attention 100 percent of the game. The goal they scored, it was a really nice goal,” Garduno said. “That’s the kind of goal they can score, if they do a really good something.”
Now the Lights turn their attention to the regular season, starting with their March 17 opener at Fresno FC. After seeing what the level of competition will be like, the team seems eager to get started.
“It was a tight score but a good game for us,” Garduno said. “(Sola), he’s happy with the score, and everybody (is) because we know that we’re ready for the league.”