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LAFC loanees shine as Las Vegas Lights notch first win of season

Jennings, Duke score in victory over Tacoma Defiance.

Courtesy of Las Vegas Lights FC

Perhaps some of Las Vegas Lights FC’s difficulties to open the 2021 season had to do with playing on the road, because in their home opener on Saturday, they posted their first win of the campaign, with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Tacoma Defiance at Cashman Field.

Surely the “home cooking” won’t necessarily explain away all the previous struggles, but there’s no doubt a switch seemed to be flipped in this game, with a crowd estimated at over 7,000 turning out to see the new-look Lights FC dominate for the first time this season.

LAFC sent eight players on loan for the game, and all eight — Tomas Romero, Tony Leone, Mohamed Traore, Alvaro Quezada, Bryce Duke, Cal Jennings, Danny Musovski and Christian Torres — started for Lights FC.

Steve Cherundolo’s side was on the front foot from kickoff, and found the first goal in the 19th minute. Quezada dribbled near the top of Tacoma’s box in some traffic, and Jennings took the ball off his teammate on a run into the box, and smashed it past Defiance GK Christian Herrera.

The goal was Jennings’ second in two games.

Roberto Molina replaced Torres at halftime, the start being Torres’ first of the season as he works his way back from a knee ailment.

Tacoma seemed to find a second wind to open the 2nd half, getting more possession and Las Vegas not being quite as ferocious in pushing forward, but the defense was still stout enough for Lights FC to be fairly comfortable.

Molina had a great look in the 68th minute, on a counterattack with Jennings, but a good rundown by a Tacoma defender made a last-ditch tackle to keep the youngster from getting a proper shot off.

But Duke scored his first goal of the season to ice the win in the 75th minute, latching onto a free ball, heading it down like a seal and hitting a great shot at the far post with his hips opened to make it 2-0.

Musovski made way for Danny Trejo, returning from injury, right after that, and CC Uche replaced Duke in the 82nd minute, with Julian Vazquez, a newcomer to the club who used to be on the books at Real Salt Lake, joining the game in the final minute of regulation in place of Jennings.

Obviously, with it being the first win it was a welcome sight for Las Vegas, and if they can build on this and pick up a few more victories in the coming matches, they’ll be right back in the mix in an ultra-competitive Pacific Division this season. We’ll see what happens, but it was certainly a nice night all around for Lights FC on Saturday.

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