After a special ceremony on Aug. 11, 2017 by the United Soccer League (USL), Las Vegas had something new to cheer about. The USL granted Las Vegas an official, professional soccer team, whose name was chosen by popular vote on VegasProSoccer.com on August 28, and announced on August 29. Introducing, the Las Vegas Lights FC!
The team’s first general manager Brett Lashbrook, 39, left his position as chief operating officer of the Orlando City SC professional football club in 2015. Officials in the club praised Lashbrook for his contributions to the team as he moved to Vegas, where his family has resided for 17 years; Lashbrook subsequently worked as a consultant for the United Soccer League (USL) and as an advisor for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. In early 2017, Lashbrook founded the Las Vegas Soccer LLC and was approved to join the USL as an expansion team.
“Soccer is the world’s most popular sport,” says Lashbrook per Idris Erba, Downtown Vegas Alliance. “I think that Lights FC is a perfect match for the right city, and it’s the right sport with the right stadium location. Best of all, it’s the right time.”
Vegas has been lucky in the 2016-2017 years in correspondence to professional sports teams. From the NHL Golden Knights to the NFL Raiders, Vegas building up a substantial pro sports scene.
“It’s interesting that Las Vegas is getting a pro soccer team now,” says Clark varsity soccer player Abraham Dolley. “It is pretty interesting because a lot of people around Clark have talent for the sport. Seeing pro talent will hopefully inspire our players. Hopefully we’ll see some great talent on the field.”
“I’m really excited,” says Coach Elizabeth Case. “I can’t wait to go to their games and support them. I’m excited for the opportunities that hopefully it provides for the athletes here in Las Vegas to see soccer played at a professional level and inspire them to go beyond just high school.”
Game tickets are expected to start at $15, and fans can already reserve season tickets with deposits of $20.
On January 8th, the Lights signed their first five players, all local players: Sebastian Hernandez, a former Bonanza HS and UNLV midfielder who competed in New York, Portland, Germany, and France over the past few years; Adolfo Guzman, midfielder and Vegas native; Marco Cesar Jaime Jr., defender from Vegas; Julian Portugal, midfielder from Palo Verde HS and UNLV; and Matt Thomas, also a midfielder from Palo Verde HS.
Head coach José Luis Sanchéz Solá, known to fans and players as El Chelís, joins the Lights after over a decade of coaching. The Lights will be the eighth team Solá has worked with since 2006.
The team will host clubs from Montreal, Vancouver, and Washington DC in exhibition games starting February 10th, 2018.