Oy vey: Ferrino’s disastrous night mars LV Lights FC’s debut

Las Vegas Lights FC - Ferrino

Photo credit: Kevin Johnston/Soc Takes

LAS VEGAS — USL expansion club Las Vegas Lights FC had plenty of positives to exit Saturday’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Impact with. The Lights held the MLS side scoreless in the first half, mostly contained Ignacio Piatti, did some decent work in the defensive and middle thirds of the pitch, played very physical soccer and already have a passionate contingent of supporters.

Unfortunately, starting goalkeeper Ricardo Ferrino took the phrase “having a bad day at the office” to uncharted heights. His disastrous performance marred what was otherwise a fairly encouraging display by the hosts.

Ferrino ventured outside the box to attempt to dribble through Impact players at least three different times in the match. No, that’s not a typo. It “worked” the first time and got a rise from the sellout crowd of 10,387 at Cashman Field. Evidently, that motivated the 26-year-old to continue the flashy showmanship, ultimately with nightmarish consequences.

After being at fault for both goals, Ferrino again found himself with the ball at his feet in traffic outside the box and opted to dribble through two Montreal attackers. He coughed up possession, then bear-hug tackled Impact midfielder David Choiniere as Choiniere wound up to shoot at the vacated net.

It was likely one of the easiest decisions the referee has had to make in his career, as he coolly reached in his back pocket and sent Ferrino off. Earlier, Ferrino escaped cards after deliberately kicking an opponent after a play at least twice, but the head ref and linesmen didn’t see the infractions.

“(Ferrino) was dribbling and cutting our forwards every time they step on him,” Impact forward Michael Salazar, who opened the scoring after Ferrino came recklessly flying out of the box, told ImpactMontreal.com. “So we’re just like, ‘OK, we’re just going to go get him.'”

Lights manager Chelis might already be thinking about turning to another No. 1 goalkeeper. That probably seems like a complete and total knee-jerk reaction, but Ferrino’s shift truly was that bad. His cringeworthy decision-making and utter disregard for sportsmanship were alarming. There’s no way to sugarcoat it.

The Impact’s newest piece, Raheem Edwards, made an immediate one. He played extremely high up the pitch on the right flank, practically looking like a striker at times. Edwards was a persistent headache for the home side.

Piatti made himself dangerous on a few occasions by rolling short passes on the ground to open teammates at the top of the box. On the whole though, Lights defenders Marcelo Alatorre and Joel Huiqui worked well together to limit Nacho’s damage. Alatorre’s busy shift earned him Man of the Match honors.

Lights supporters wasted no time making their presence felt in the stadium. Unfortunately, one of the traditions is yelling a certain word during goal kicks which doesn’t deserve repeating. On the brighter and much more creative side, they’re also chanting “Lights” during that word in “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a neat wrinkle to have prepared for the first match ever.

There are some logistical issues at Cashman Field that need to be worked around. Lines to enter the match were staggeringly long; spectators weren’t getting ushered through the gates fast enough. There was also quite a bit of congestion in the main concourse before the game and during halftime — entirely understandable given the massive turnout for the inaugural match. The secondhand smoke infiltrating the entire concourse wasn’t ideal either.

One thing that definitely needs tweaking, if not altogether axing, is the club’s use of in-match loudspeaker sounds. Similar to an NBA game, sound effects were piped in during the match. As the supporters’ section develops chants and starts bringing drummers and other musicians, hopefully the game day operations folks at Cashman will cease this practice. By no means did it ruin the experience, but there was a definite level of tackiness to it.

Ultimately, a night chock-full of positives for the club and community was slightly tarnished by Ferrino’s bizarre antics. But there are plenty of reasons to be bullish about pro soccer in Sin City. Las Vegas has something special on its hands in Lights FC.

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.

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