In the second year under manager Eric Wynalda, Lights FC is establishing a culture centered around becoming a family.
The soccer team got its first bonding experience this past weekend when it traveled to Utah for a scrimmage with Real Salt Lake of the MLS. Wynalda hoped to find early signs of cohesion in the first preseason exhibition and tried to block out distractions.
“We made a rule — put your phones down. Talk to each other,” Wynalda said “I felt like it was a big reason why we started to learn a little bit about each other. We said put your phones away and look at people in the eye when you talk to them. That’s the way I want to do things.”
The phone rule, coupled with staying in Real Salt Lake Academy’s dormitory building, forced the Lights to spend all their time together, just as the academy students would.
“The focus was solely on what we were doing,” said Wynalda, “I like the isolation. They needed to get away from everything.”
The Lights returned for week two of training camp with some new additions to the family. Striker Seku Conneh of Liberia and defender Chancel Ndaye of Burundi had their first practice with the team Wednesday, both displaying talents the Lights were seeking.
“Clearly Seku (Conneh) has got talent and knows how to find the back of the net. We just need to get him fit,” said Wynalda. “Watching (Chancel) Ndaye today, he’s fast and can cross the ball. That’s what we wanted out of him.”
Conneh and Ndaye traveled from their native countries to join the team earlier this week. Both were ready to practice Tuesday, however Wynalda held them out to help them acclimate to Las Vegas. Conneh returns to the USL having previously played two years with the Bethlehem Steel.
“I’m happy to be here,” Conneh said. “[Wynalda] is straightforward, and that’s what we need as a team. He can help us stick together.”
Contact Le’Andre Fox at email@example.com.