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LAFC happy to see players get ‘good playing time’ with Las Vegas Lights

Hopefully results will come after uneven season opener for Lights FC.

Raheem Edwards (left) in action on loan with Las Vegas Lights.
Courtesy of LA Galaxy

Las Vegas Lights FC kicked off their 2021 USL Championship season with a 5-0 loss against LA Galaxy II last week, perhaps not the start expected to the season coming in.

It’s worth noting Galaxy II had a game already under their belts and were a playoff team in 2020, while Las Vegas completely turned over their roster, hired a new coach in Steve Cherundolo and were playing their first game of the season. Add to that the teams went to halftime tied 0-0. But in the 2nd half, Las Vegas fell apart, letting in five unanswered goals.

As the reserve team of LAFC, however, the results are not always the main aim. Lights FC are training with LAFC during the week and the team is aiming to play the same style as LAFC, something that will take time to fully implement. Hopefully, the results will come with that.

But LAFC head coach Bob Bradley was asked about Las Vegas’ game during media availability last week, and offered his thoughts on the development aspect of the USL Championship team.

“It’s important for us, especially early in the year, to get players good playing time,” Bradley said. “A few, I think, did some good things of the chances that Las Vegas Lights created. Bryce Duke had a hand in four or five of them, with some very good moves, some very good passes. So we’re excited to see him grow, he needs games. He’s a young player that has ability but now he must mature in different ways and that will come from game time. So I think that’s a good example of someone who got on the field and benefitted from the game last night.”

Five LAFC first-team players started for Las Vegas in the season opener, including Duke, and two more came off the bench in the second half. Bradley noted one of those substitutes, Christian Torres, was in a rehab stint as he recovers from a persistent injury.

“I was excited to watch [Torres] play for 20 minutes last night,” Bradley explained. “It’s been difficult for him because in the early part of the season he has been slowed down and we’ve been working to get him moving better in the long run so that he’s not dealing with some knee issues all the time. We’re hopeful to continue to build him in a smart way, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy just being able to see him on the field. I thought last night when he got into the game he got involved very quickly, got on the end of two balls in the box and that led to two first-time shots. With young players you have to be patient, and most importantly, with young players to grow they have to feel good every day. They can’t be carrying some injuries around that take away from their development.”

Las Vegas are scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday, when they’ll head to Sacramento for Sacramento Republic FC’s home opener. Given the longer trip, we’ll see how many LAFC players make the roster, and how the team overall performs against another tricky opponent.

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