Lights FC newcomers show rust in debut

Lights FC forward Daniel Guzman Jr. tweeted after he and three others made their long-awaited Lights FC debut: “We’re back!”

Now after getting them back on the field, the Lights need to get them up to speed.

The team started newcomers Guzman Jr., Omar Salgado, Rodrigo Inigo and Joseph Patrick Perez at Rio Grande Valley on July 14, but its lineup didn’t show much chemistry in a 2-0 loss. The quartet hadn’t played for a while after waiting weeks for the international transfer window to open, and things started out rusty.

“(On my last team) in Mexico I didn’t get that much playing time so I was really looking to finally get on the field and play,” Salgado said.

While Salgado arrived in Las Vegas in June following his stint in Mexico, he didn’t practice much with the starters until the week leading up to his debut. It was the same for the other three newcomers, which left them little time to build an on-field rapport with the club’s mainstays before playing the Toros.

As a result the Lights completed only 65.7 percent of their passes in the loss, their worst mark since a May 11 loss to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The team was also outshot 16-4 in the first 65 minutes in the game, but took seven of the last eight shots after coach Isidro Sanchez subbed out three of the newcomers.

Sanchez acknowledged the quartet was rusty after the game, but said “they showed good things.” The Lights still believe in the players’ talent, they just need to find better ways to work them into the lineup now that they’ve knocked some rust off.

Salgado, for instance, played as a midfielder against Rio Grande Valley FC instead of his natural position further up the pitch.

“I’m a forward so hopefully I can bring goals to the team and a playoff spot,” Salgado said. “That’s what we’re all looking for.”

Mendiola gets honored

Lights midfielder Raul Mendiola was named to the USL’s Team of the Week on Tuesday after recording the first hat trick in team history.

Mendiola scored three goals in the team’s 6-4 loss to OKC Energy FC on July 11, and has scored five times in his first seven games.

August fireworks

The Lights will have fireworks after each of their three August home games, which will also feature special themes.

The club’s Aug. 4 game will be “Back to School Night” and first 2,000 attendees under 12 will receive a Lights backpack. The team will have “UFC night” on Aug. 18, which will feature several fighters, and a to-be-determined theme night on Aug. 25.

Injury Updates

Midfielder James Murphy and defender Miguel Garduno worked to the side at Tuesday’s practice and midfielder Matt Thomas and Christian Torres worked with a trainer as they recover from lower-body injuries.

More Lights: Follow all of our Las Vegas Lights FC coverage online at reviewjournal.com/lights and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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