So, the Impact get their pre-season off and running this evening, down in Vegas. But who is the opponent?
Actually, it’s Las Vegas Lights . . . . and it’s their first-ever match, of any kind!!!
LV Lights was the concept borne by Brett Lashbrook and his family to bring ProSoccer to downtown Vegas.
They will compete next season in the USL Western Conference, and have swiftly pulled together a roster of players, mainly from the USA, but with a healthy contingent also from Mexico.
Latest addition just this week was Freddie Adu, now 28, and who previously faced IMFC as a Philadelphia Union player. Lights becomes Adu’s 13th professional club.
Other notables in their squad include 14 times capped Mexican centre-back, Joel Huiqui, formerly of Cruz Azul and Montreal’s old friends, CF Pachuca, Edgar Lugo (33), a midfielder who has 4 Mexican caps, all won in 2012, and shares the Cruz Azul connection with Huiqui.
Impact will also probably face two other former MLS players this evening in Carlos Alarez (27), who saw action with Chivas USA and Colorado Rapids, and Samuel Ochea (31), a USA u23 and u20 international, who spent two years at Seattle Sounders (2011-2013).
The name of the club was chosen by the fans via an on-line poll. Las Vegas Lights beat five other suggestions; Las Vegas FC, Las Vegas Silver, Club Vegas, Viva Vegas and Las Vegas Action. Interestingly also, the majority of fans chose to call the club “Football Club” rather than “Soccer Club”.
Cashman Field will host tonight’s game and all USL home games for the Lights. It’s previously hosted a couple of exhibition California Clasicos between MLS clubs, LA Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes (2016 & 2017). Also home to the Las Vegas 51’s triple A baseball team, an affiliate of NY Mets, it’s been criticized for showing signs of age, and indeed the baseball team plans to move to a new stadium in 2019.
After months and years of waiting, we are proud to say the world’s game comes to Downtown Las Vegas, TONIGHT. pic.twitter.com/uxccYQLQFc— Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc) February 10, 2018
Remi Garde’s players may be relieved that complaints about the surface alluding to sore knees and backs, were recently addressed, with the laying of new turf in January. But the laying of new turf may also have its risks, depending on how well it’s bedded in. Let’s hope all goes well in this respect.
Garde’s counterpart this evening is Mexican, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola (59), who had Mexican club Puebla punching above its weight from 2006-2010, and has also taken charge of Estudiantes Tecos and Vera Cruz in Liga Mex and Chivas USA in MLS.
Interestingly his assistant, Isidro “Pidri” Sanchez Macip, also Mexican represented Canada in the qualifying competition for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Tonight, may be the first occasion Montreal Impact has faced a brand new team playing its inaugural match, and it certainly will be the only time they have faced a club with registered colors of blue, yellow and pink, with a “smiley face” on the interior. That’s to allow players to smile for the cameras by pulling the jerseys over their heads in a unique celebration should they score a goal.
It may only be a warm-up, but Montreal won’t want to be seeing too many “smiley faces” this evening . . . . .
Lights FC vs. Major League Soccer’s Montreal Impact will also be streamed live worldwide on KCLV.TV/Live