Sacramento Republic FC and Las Vegas Lights FC close out regular season action Saturday night at Papa Murphy’s Park as the two clubs meet for their second matchup this season. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Ahead of Saturday’s action, get to know Lights FC.
Through his 22 games played this season, 24-year-old forward Raul Mendiola has risen to the top of the scoring charts for Lights FC, collecting 10 goals in 2018. The attacker, who rose through the LA Galaxy development academy and eventually saw time with the first team back in 2014, had struggled in recent years and was eventually cut by LA Galaxy II last fall. With Las Vegas, the Mexican footballer has regained his confidence, scoring five goals in his first seven games and collecting the club’s first hat-trick in franchise history on July 11. The performance earned Mendiola a spot on USL’s Team of the Week for Week 18 but he was denied Player of the Week by Cameron Iwasa.
Up front with Mendiola in 2018 has been former Republic FC forward Sammy Ochoa who has played a part in 14 Lights FC goals this season. Through 31 games with Las Vegas, Ochoa has matched his 2017 tally of eight conversions and six assists recorded in his 27 games played with Sacramento. The 32-year old has also boasted an 83.3 percent success rate on tackles attempted this season. Should he take the pitch this weekend, Ochoa will have appeared in all of the club’s matches this season.
Las Vegas Lights FC and Sacramento Republic FC last faced off back on April 14 and since that match the two teams have diverged for two completely different seasons. After the pair of squads continued their unbeaten streaks in USL Week 5 with a 1-1 draw at Cashman Field, Lights FC fell off losing 17 of their next 29 games. After recording their second win of the season on March 31, it took seven more matches for the team to notch their third victory, going winless in the months of April and May. Las Vegas collected a pair of results in June, beating Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and Seattle Sounders 2 each by a score of 4-1 from Cashman Field, before collecting seven points in the month of July with a pair of wins and a draw. However, as the summer months waned, so too did Lights FC’s results as their Wednesday night victory over Phoenix Rising proved a small highlight to follow an 11-game winless streak (0-9-2) which dated back to August 11.
While unable to lock down a winning record on the road or at Cashman Field in 2018, Las Vegas Lights FC have found much more success at home in their inaugural season. With a 6-7-4 record, Lights FC have earned 22 points in Vegas, while their 2-11-3 road record has only added an additional 9 points to their season tally.
Last meeting on April 14, Sacramento and Las Vegas split the points in a 1-1 draw at Cashman Field, extending each of the teams’ undefeated start to the season. Lights FC kicked off the match with an early goal, swatted in off a corner kick in the second minute which provided the hosts with a lead which they held into the second half. Carlos Alvarez played the ball to the near post where defender Miguel Garduno made a run and headed the ball back to the far post. Joel Huiqui then turned on the header, converting the ball for the match’s opening goal. After the half, Sacramento found their way back into the match through a set piece. Villyan Bijev delivered an in-swinging right-footed corner in toward the near post, where Christian Eissele flicked the ball on far post for his second goal of the season. Republic FC nearly found the game winner in the closing minutes after Adam Moffat slotted a shot past keeper Ricardo Ferriño, but a foul called outside the box forced the shot be taken again via free kick, which ultimately proved blocked by Lights FC’s wall.
Sacramento Republic FC and Las Vegas Lights FC will face off on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. kick at Papa Murphy’s Park.
Updates will be provided via Twitter at @SacRepublicFC or using #SACvLV.
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