Lights fc
Photo Credit: Lights FC

New Match Preview: Lights FC vs Phoenix Rising FC – 8/22/20

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The Las Vegas Lights look to build off a great win against the Tacoma Defiance as they take on what will be their toughest opponent in the group stage. 

 

They host Phoenix Rising FC who sits atop of the group-B table with 19 points. Phoenix is also coming off a 4-1 victory over LA Galaxy II. Los Angeles led the game in almost every category, including possession time, interceptions, total passing accuracy percentage, and even saves in the game.

Lights FC
Photo Credit: Beautiful Game Network

However, Rising FC took advantage of their scoring chances as they were able to come out with a win. The Rising was more aggressive. Eleven of their shots were on goal versus to just 3 out of 15 shots from Galaxy

This is just one of many things Phoenix Rising excels in, and that is their potent offensive attack. One could say this club’s strategy is “a team’s best defense is their offense.”

Phoenix leads the entire USL Championship league in total goals, rank top 4 in passing percentage, and lead the southwest table with 19 assists. The next closest club in assists is the LA Galaxy II with 6. 

The Rising FC record many assists, but do not let the numbers fool you. They typically play in a 4-3-3 formation, which allows their front three and midfield to play a 1-on-1 isolation game against the defense. This team can dribble around their opponents just as well as they can distribute the ball amongst one another. 

Despite their record, the Lights FC should be able to hold their own on the field and are more than capable of winning this game. Phoenix’s defensive play does not rely on heavy ball pressure, which is a good sign for Las Vegas. The Lights tend to struggle with pass and shot opportunities against heavy pressure as fans saw in the matchup against Orange County SC

 

Nonetheless, the game goes both ways. If the Lights plan on pressuring the ball, Rising FC can use their formation to their advantage.

 

Photo Credit: Lights FC

A 4-3-3 format allows more outlet passes to and from the wings when the defense is continuously tracking the ball with pressure. Versus to a team like the Light’s 4-2-3-1 formation with a one-person front, it is easier for the defense to trap or pressure the ball.

Why?

Those five midfielders for Vegas will usually start their counters deep in their own half from helping out on the defensive end, so it takes time for the rest of the attack to make their runs and create spacing.

Phoenix utilizes a slow to fast build-up attacking scheme. Usually, the attack will start with the defenders or midfielders slowly moving the ball around. As soon as pressure gets heavy, they start to pick up the pace with their dribbles and passes to make their way downfield. Then it is off to the races against the defense, and by this time, they have spaced out the whole field with two wingers and one forward making runs towards goal. 

 

There are a few players to look out for in the next game against the Lights:

 

Forward out of Kingston, Jamaica, Junior Flemmings, who has been red hot this entire season with nine goals in 8 matches. 

 

Lights FC
Photo Credit: Arizona Republic

Midfielder, who typically lines up at right-wing for Phoenix, Soloman Asante, is also a serious threat off the wing with five goals and leads the league with seven assists. 

Rufat Dadashov will line up front with Flemmings and Asante. Dadashov has recorded five goals and two assists to go along with this aggressive front three that produces many scoring chances for the club. 

Rashawn Dally and Junior Burgos will look to lead the Lights attack against a club riding into this contest on a 4-game win streak. Phoenix is currently 8 points clear from the next contender for 1st place in the table. So with this win, the Las Vegas Lights FC can make things a little more interesting in the group stage, while keeping their playoff hopes alive. 

 

Lights FC News and Notes:

 

Lights
Photo Credit: Minnesota United FC

Wednesday’s home victory over Tacoma Defiance also served as the first victory by Lights FC’s Head Coach Frank Yallop, the first-ever appearance by recently signed New Zealand National Team Member Noah Billingsley and the first-ever home appearance by recently signed Las Vegas native Blake Frischknecht who is the most recent player signed as part of the “Lights FC Homegrown Player Initiative presented by Nevada State College.”

As has been the case all season, due to COVID-19, this week’s matches will remain “closed-door” to the public.

With 11 games of the 16 match shortened season still remaining, Lights FC still has time to make a run for its first-ever playoff appearance this season — but points against Group B opponents will be key. Following Saturday’s match, the Lights FC’s three-match homestand will finish up on Tuesday, August 25th against Orange County SC on a nationally televised broadcast aired live on ESPN Deportes. Currently, Phoenix & Orange County sit in first & second place respectively in Group B, which also includes Los Angeles, San Diego & Lights FC.

 

Be sure to check out this matchup tonight at 7:30pm PT, on ESPN+.

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-Justin Brooks – Franchise Sports Media

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