The Lights FC will be without its technical director for almost a quarter of its remaining USL games.
The United Soccer League announced Friday that Jose Luis Sanchez Sola was suspended seven games for “referee assault” after making physical contact with a match official following the Lights’ 3-1 loss to San Antonio FC on April 27. The second game of Sola’s suspension will be the team’s match against Tulsa Roughnecks FC at 8 p.m. Saturday at Cashman Field.
The Lights said in a statement that Sola got into an argument with the officials in the dugout behind the teams’ benches following the match, and after he made a pointing gesture he made contact with one referee’s chest.
“My finger did make contact one time with the referee, for which I want to apologize many times,” Sola said in a statement. “But my action and my only intention was to point to him. Without intention, and with one finger, you can’t hurt anyone. I made a mistake in touching the referee with my finger. It will not happen again.”
Sola will be eligible to return to the sideline June 16, a home game against Seattle Sounders FC 2. The Lights are appealing the suspension. Lashbrook said the club is providing the league with multiple witnesses to back its version of events.
A USL spokesman said “we are working to expedite the appeal process with all parties and anticipate a resolution next week.”
Sola already served one game of the suspension, the team’s 0-0 draw at Real Monarchs SLC on Monday.
His son, Lights coach Isidro Sanchez, also was suspended for that game after being dismissed from the sidelines in the loss to San Antonio. Sanchez will lead the club from the touchline for possibly the next month and a half.
The Lights are hoping Sola will return sooner than that though, once the appeals process is completed and their side of the story is heard. The punishment is the longest the league has handed out this year. Five players have been issued three-game suspensions.
“I’m not condoning it in any way,” Lashbrook said. “(But) the use of the term assault for this type of situation is making light of situations where people have been actually assaulted. This is a finger poke. … We welcome the appeals process so our version of events and those of the eyewitnesses have a proper venue to be heard.”
Olsen adds goalkeeper depth
Bishop Gorman product Thomas Olsen signed with the Lights, the team announced Friday.
The Las Vegas native is the 24th member of the team’s roster and third goalkeeper behind Ricardo Ferrino and Rancho product Angel Alvarez.
Olsen, 23, allowed 18 goals in 17 starts for the University of San Diego last fall as a senior and was named to the All-West Coast Conference Second Team.
“It’s kind of a dream come true,” Olsen said in a statement. “A year ago, I was in San Diego, and I heard there was going to be a team coming here. In the back of my head, I thought ‘There’s a chance, this is a possibility.’ How exciting?”