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For Las Vegas. By Las Vegas. Of Las Vegas.
That is the motto of Brett Lashbrook and his new soccer team, Las Vegas Lights FC. The team name was decided by a fan vote, and the logo was designed with the help of local submissions.
“We’re tapping into the real Las Vegas,” Lashbrook says. “This is not a tourism play. This is 2.2 million people who live here. We don’t go to the Strip on a Saturday night. We want to go for something that’s our own.”
Soon Las Vegans will call professional soccer its own, as Lights FC kicks off its preseason schedule on February 10 at Cashman Field, and the regular season on March 17.
If all goes according to Lashbrook’s plan, Lights FC will be Las Vegas’ next headliner.
According to Lights FC head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Solá, “[Lashbrook] wants a spectacular team to put on a show like all the shows in Las Vegas.”
Solá, better known as Chelís, is the man tasked with winning. He comes to Las Vegas with experience from the top leagues in Mexico and the U.S. He took Club Puebla and guided them to a promotion to Mexico’s top league.
Now that he is with Lights FC of the United Soccer League, he is the first to coach in both the first and second divisions of the U.S. and Mexico.
Attend a Lights FC practice, which is open to the public, and Chelís stands out. He is roaming the field coaching his team in Spanish and occasionally English. He may even boot a misplaced pass into a tent on the sidelines. But his fiery style has won players over throughout his career.
“You just need to understand him,” midfielder Sebastian Hernandez says. “He demands so much from you because he has high expectations for you.”
While Lashbrook has been a hands-on owner in developing the local identity of this new club, Chelís loves that Lashbrook is hands-off on the field.
This show is for Chelís to direct and for the players to make beautiful.
But making something beautiful in a short amount of time can be difficult. Lights FC signed their first players on January 5, just over a month prior to the team’s first game.
Chelís thinks the newness helps.
“It’s very, very easy. Because there is one idea,” Chelís says. “After building the team, the players have the same idea as me. Other teams have players and players [already established], you bring a new idea and they think it is impossible.”
Now that Lashbrook has made professional soccer possible in Las Vegas, he’s making it easy to come watch Chelís lead his new show. Season tickets start at $200, while single game tickets are as low as $15.
“We want everyone to try it once,” Lashbrook says. “We know we are going to put on a show. There’s going to be singing and dancing and cheering. We need everyone in Las Vegas to give us one game.”