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Meet the League Monday

By El Paso USL, 07/23/18, 5:45PM MDT

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In 2019, El Paso USL will begin play and will have the chance to face teams across the US. Before our debut in March of next year, we invite our fans to Meet the League. Every Monday, we will be profiling a new team in the USL so check back to learn a little more about each of the opponents we will be facing on the pitch.

Reno 1868 FC

Last week we featured Las Vegas Lights FC, but Nevada is actually home to two USL clubs. The first of those clubs was Reno 1868 FC, who began play in 2017. Named after the founding year of the city, Reno 1868 calls Greater Nevada Field home. The team shares the field and are managed by the same owners as the MiLB Triple-A team, the Reno Aces.

The team has been coached by Ian Russel for both seasons in the league. Russell was a former player and coach for the San Jose Earthquakes, the MLS affiliate of Reno 1868. The technical affiliation between the two clubs means that players can more easily move between the two clubs; whether it be on loan or a permanent signing. Given that we will play against Reno 1868 next year, we may see some of those Earthquakes in El Paso! Visit https://www.reno1868fc.com/ for more information on this club!

Las Vegas Lights FC

This week we look at Las Vegas Lights FC, who are playing their inaugural season in the USL this year. Jose Luis Sánchez Solá, or Chelís, was named as the first head coach of Lights FC and comes to the team after stints as a MLS and Liga MX manager. Currently, the team is coached by Chelís’s son, Isidro Sánchez.  The roster features MLS standout Freddy Adu as well as Omar Salgado, who is El Paso USL’s first player. On loan with the team since July, Salgado has already scored two goals and has one assist in his first five games with the team.

The Las Vegas Lights FC are also grabbing headlines and gaining attention for their activities off the pitch. Dolly and Dotty, two llamas, are an integral part of the team and frequently appear on field and in team photos. The team also sports jerseys with smiley face emojis on the inside that get shown off during goal celebrations and a Las Vegas team wouldn’t be complete without their own DJ, would they?  We can’t wait to see what tricks Lights FC will have up their sleeves next year when we face them. Visit lasvegaslightsfc.com for more information!

San Antonio FC

After last week's announcement of Austin Bold FC, the Lone Star State now is home to four USL clubs, including San Antonio FC. Already established as an in-state rival by some fans, San Antonio FC began play in 2016 and is owned and operated by the same ownership group as the San Antonio Spurs.  

The team has been led for all three seasons by head coach, Darren Powell. With more than 15 years of professional soccer experience, Powell holds the position as the winningest coach of the men's soccer program at Elon University, a Division 1 school.  

Toyota Field, one of the more advanced soccer specific stadiums in the league, is where the team plays their home matches. Currently, the club is looking to shatter their longest win streak after winning their fourth consecutive match.  Who do you think will win the first Sun City vs. Alamo City matchup? Learn more about San Antonio FC!

Rio Grande Valley FC

Today in Meet the League Monday, we travel down the Rio Grande to another USL team located along the border.  Rio Grande Valley FC is a hybrid affiliate of MLS club Houston Dynamo which means that the Dynamo controls the technical side of the club. Wilmer Cabrera, the Toros first head coach, was called up to coach the Dynamo in 2016 and continues to serve as head coach for the MLS side.  

Located in Edinburg, TX, H-E-B Park is the soccer specific stadium the Toros call home. While more than 11 hours away from El Paso, the battle between the two clubs located on the Rio Grande is sure to be an exciting matchup next year! Click here to learn more about the club.

Phoenix Rising FC

For our first Meet the League Monday, we introduce Phoenix Rising FC. One of the closest opponents distant wise at 6 hours away, Phoenix Rising will be a tough team to face given their performance on the field this year. Currently, Phoenix Rising sits at second place in the Western Conference at 11-4-5 (Wins-Losses-Ties).

Phoenix Rising FC made their debut in 2017 but originally joined USL as Arizona United SC in 2014 under different ownership. The team made headlines in 2017 when they signed Didier Drogba of Chelsea and the Ivory Coast, Chivas great, Omar Bravo, and Shaun Wright-Phillips of Manchester City. Visit http://www.phxrisingfc.com/ for more information!


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