Las Vegas Lights FC are exactly one month away from starting their 2021 USL Championship season, and things had been very quiet on the roster front. That changed Monday, as the club announced nine signings for the upcoming season.
Some players have experience in the USL Championship or other pro leagues, some are tied to Lights FC’s MLS affiliate, LAFC, in one way or another, and some of the others are newcomers.
Phillip Ejimadu (GK) - We wondered if the young goalkeeper would stick around, and in a roundabout way he has. Ejimadu spent the last two seasons with LAFC as the No. 3, but never made an appearance for the black-and-gold in a competitive game. In 2019, he spent most of the season on loan at USL League One side FC Tucson and started most of the games he was there.
CC Uche (Defender): The Ohio State/Duke product was drafted in the 2nd round by LAFC in 2021. I figured he would probably get a pro deal with Las Vegas, and now he can embark on his career while working to make the potential move up to MLS eventually.
USL Championship experience
Danny Crisostomo (Midfielder): Played the last two seasons for Orange County SC after a collegiate career at UC Irvine. Crisostomo is a versatile midfielder, capable of playing several roles there, and will likely be a key player for Las Vegas. It can tough to make the jump up to MLS, but he’s a guy who’s had a lot of interest from around the USL Championship.
Pro experience abroad
Duncan Turnbull (GK): The Notre Dame product is on loan at Las Vegas from English club Portsmouth, with which he’s made one appearance at a first team level to date. Prior to signing with Pompey, Turnbull was drafted by the Houston Dynamo in 2020 but did not sign with them.
Michael Yeboah (Midfielder): Also acquired on loan to Lights FC, Yeboah played for the Attram de Visser Academy in Ghana, the same youth program that LAFC forward Mahala Opoku came from. Yeboah turned pro with Ghanaian Premier League side Accra Great Olympics, which is currently the first place team in the division.
Frank Daroma (Midfielder): The Cal State San Bernardino product turned pro early to join Las Vegas. A diminutive midfielder originally from Sierra Leone who grew up in Goleta and played for the Barça Academy in Arizona, Daroma was a United Soccer Coaches All-American in 2019.
Eric Iloski (Defender): The UCLA product was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in January but they declined to sign him. Iloski comes from a soccer family — oldest brother Brian spent a brief time in Europe and currently plays for Orange County SC, while middle brother Milan is under contract to Real Salt Lake and has played for Real Monarchs. All three brothers could face each other in USL Championship play this season, potentially.
Roberto Molina (Forward): Another UC Irvine product, Molina also left school early to turn pro. Born in El Salvador and splitting his upbringing between there and California, he also played for Barça Academy in Arizona. With the Anteaters, he was a Big West All-Freshman Team selection.
Nathan Sepulveda (Midfielder): Las Vegas say the 18-year-old is the youngest signing in club history. A product of the FC Golden State academy, Sepulveda had committed to play for Saint Mary’s College as recently as February, after getting various college offers, but the Walnut, California native ultimately opted to skip college soccer and go pro.
In addition to the nine signings announced, Las Vegas also announced Monday that the one player who was under contract Blake Frischknecht, had his contract cancelled by mutual agreement to pursue another opportunity. Don’t know where that is yet, but I would not be shocked if he is an in-demand player around the USL. I guess maybe he didn’t fit into the new direction of the club.
Las Vegas now have roughly 1⁄2 to 1⁄3 of a roster now, and while I expect several LAFC players will go on loan to Las Vegas this season, expect another 6-12 signings announced before the season starts on May 5. Stay tuned.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.