To prepare for the 2019 season, a pair of Major League Soccer teams will head to Las Vegas in February for the preseason.
Las Vegas Lights FC, a United Soccer League Championship side, announced Wednesday it will host Toronto FC and the Colorado Rapids for a pair of exhibitions. The Lights will face Toronto Feb. 2 and then take on the Rapids Feb. 16.
These two games will be the first for Eric Wynalda, the former United States men’s national team forward who was hired as the head coach of the Lights in October. Wynalda was previously the coach of the United Premier Soccer League’s LA Wolves and North American Soccer League’s Atlanta Silverbacks. As a player, he had 106 caps and scored 34 goals for the U.S.
The Lights will begin their second season in existence in 2019.
“Season 2 can’t start soon enough. We are ecstatic to bring more MLS clubs to Cashman Field,” Lights owner and CEO Brett Lashbrook said in a statement. “We proved last year we can be a big-time soccer market – and now with Cashman Field being a soccer-only venue and U.S. soccer superstar Eric Wynalda as our new coach we are ready to rock n’ roll.”
For their first ever home match, a preseason contest against the Montreal Impact of MLS, more than 10,000 fans attended. The Lights finished their first season with a record of 8-19-7 and an average announced home attendance of 7,221.
Sammy Ochoa led the Lights in scoring with eight goals and seven assists. One of the 32-year-old’s strikes was nominated for USL Goal of the Year. The Lights re-signed him to a new contract in November. They also exercised the options on the contracts of goalkeepers Thomas Olsen and Angel Alvarez, defender Christian Torres and midfielder Matt Thomas.
American forward Freddy Adu also appeared in 14 games for the Lights last season, but the option on his contract was declined by the club. Las Vegas said in a November release that is was negotiating with Adu, 29, to bring him back for another season.
Toronto FC and the Colorado Rapids both missed the MLS Cup playoffs in 2018.