Lights goalkeeper Alexander Rando is becoming a staple between the sticks in his first season with the United Soccer League club.
Rando has two shutouts, including 1-0 over the Tacoma Defiance the last time the Lights played at home.
“It was a big testament to my backline,” Rando said of his three-save game. “I think guys like CC Uche and Mohamed Traore both had really big games. It was just great to get that shutout.”
Rando spent time collegiately at Stanford and Virginia. He never played for Stanford during his one year with the program in 2019, then transferred to Virginia and appeared in 10 games during the coronavirus-interrupted 2020 season.
Rando, 20, is signed to the Lights full time and won’t be returning to Virginia. He saw the opportunity as a chance to learn from some of the best while he gets quality professional minutes.
“It’s a good playing opportunity and great coaching opportunity,” Rando said. “To be coached by Steve Cherundolo, he’s obviously one of the most well-known U.S soccer players of all time. That was definitely a big impact.”
Cherundolo said the decision to sign Rando was an easy one.
“We had seen (Alex) on video and liked what we saw,” he said. “We got him in to train for a few days, and he confirmed everything we saw on video and a level beyond.”
The Lights announced the signing of Rando on May 22, and he was in the starting lineup that night at the Phoenix Rising Football Club. The Lights lost 5-1, as Phoenix set USL records with a total of 41 shots and 20 on target.
Rando made 15 saves, a league record for a debut.
“It was my first pro game, but the biggest thing for me is to just have fun,” he said. “I get to do this for a living, this is my job, and there’s no need to be nervous. I saw after the game that I broke the record, but I didn’t think anything of it because I was pretty disappointed in the result.”
The same day Rando signed, actor Rainn Wilson, known for his role as Dwight Schrute on “The Office,” tweeted that Rando is the “next great keeper in U.S soccer.”
The tweet left a lot of people confused, but the two know each other well. Rando’s dad is a stage director in New York and worked with Wilson in the 1990s when he was a stage actor.
Rando has appeared in six games and ranks in the top five in the USL in saves with 36. He missed five games when the Lights started Tomas Romero, who was on loan from the Los Angeles Football Club.
Romero has started the past four games for LAFC, paving the way for Rando to get quality playing time. He said having Romero around was beneficial to his development.
“I’ve known Tomas for a while,” Rando said. “He’s a great goalkeeper, someone I look up to and someone I like competing with.”
Contact Review-Journal reporter Aidan Subira at email@example.com.
Who: Sacramento Republic FC at Lights FC
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Cashman Field
Promotion: “Hump Day Camel Day.” Camels will attend the match, and fans are encouraged to interact with them.
Lights outlook (4-6-1): The Lights have won two straight but lost to Sacramento 3-1 on May 12. Tony Leone, 17, scored the winning goal in the 74th minute in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Oakland, the first goal of his professional career. Defender Mohamed Traore was voted to the USL team of the week last week.
Sacramento Republic outlook (2-6-3): Sacramento’s last win was the May 12 match against the Lights. The team is 0-6-3 since and in sixth place in the Western Conference Pacific. Striker Tucker Bone leads Sacramento in goals with three, including one against the Lights.
Aidan Subira Review Journal