As the Lights FC continues its midseason roster overhaul, it’s looking to bigger clubs to pick up talented players on the cheap.
Two of the eight players the team has added since May 22 arrived on loans from Major League Soccer clubs, hoping to earn more playing time in the second-division United Soccer League. It’s a deal that works well for the Lights, who gained additional depth in midfielder James Murphy and defender Nico Samayoa while the MLS teams foot the bill.
“It’s been great. (Technical director Jose Luis Sanchez Sola) and everyone has welcomed me with open arms,” Samayoa said. “It’s an opportunity to get better, to progress as a soccer player.”
Murphy, 20, is on loan from LAFC while Samayoa, 22, comes from the New England Revolution. Both were players the Lights identified as potential fits that weren’t getting many opportunities with their current clubs.
Murphy and Samayoa still hadn’t made their MLS debuts when their teams were asked about sending them to Las Vegas for the rest of the season.
“(LAFC) wanted me to get some minutes,” Murphy said. “It hasn’t happened for me over there quite yet but they saw this opportunity for me to come to Las Vegas and the whole staff thought it was a good idea for me to come here, get minutes, get experience and do the best I can.”
Murphy already has made an impact for the Lights despite arriving June 21, recording an assist off the bench in the team’s 3-2 loss to the Swope Park Rangers on June 24. Samayoa also debuted shortly after coming to Las Vegas in the club’s 4-0 loss to Phoenix Rising FC on June 13, but a MCL sprain has kept him from playing further.
Even with one of their two MLS loanees hurt, the Lights believe they’re coming out ahead on these deals because they’re not paying the players’ salaries. The two would be among the club’s highest-paid players: Murphy will make $87,500 in total compensation this year according to the MLS Players Association and Samayoa $54,500.04. LAFC and the Revolution are responsible for their salaries.
All the Lights have to do is put the two young, talented players they asked for on the field.
”It’s good knowing that the team wants you but it’s also a challenge because you know you have to come here and prove that you’re that type of player that they wanted,” Samayoa said.
Drake leaves Lights
The Lights announced the team and defender Zak Drake parted ways Friday.
Drake started in the season opener, one of his three starts and six appearances, but stopped training with the club in late May once Sola began bringing in new players.