Week 11 Preview: what you need to know

Back in the fray

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With a long stretch of mostly road games looming, the Legion needs to make the most of this week’s Wednesday action. Let’s take a look at what’s coming up:

The most important part

Another Wednesday, another midweek game. This time it’s against the Las Vegas Lights (7:00pm) for the first ever meeting between the two teams. The Legion are coming off a poor performance in Pittsburgh 11 days ago and hopefully have their heads straight for what is essentially a must-win game. But it won’t be easy. This Lights team is probably the best they have ever had, but even so are still a bit of a headscratcher.

There are two issues right now with Las Vegas. The first is the injury status of leading scorer Danny Trejo (to be clear: not the actor). Trejo is one of 4 players on 6 goals this season, but hasn’t scored since April 16. He was subbed out after 28 minutes in the loss to Monterey Bay on May 7 and was an unused sub against Oakland this past Saturday. It’s unclear if he was truly available to play or just there to fill out the 18. If he’s clear to play tonight he would be a major threat. However, it should also be noted that his goals have come mostly against weaker opposition.

The other issue is who will show up from Los Angeles FC. The Lights typically have 4 or 5 short-term loanees from LAFC for any given game, which makes for a relatively confusing lineup. Most important, however, is whether Cal Jennings will be among those players. Jennings is Vegas’ second-best scorer with 3 goals in 7 appearances. Jennings is perhaps best known to Legion fans for his hat-trick back in 2020 when he playing for Memphis 901. After that season Area Code FC let him go on a free transfer to Indy Eleven, who immediately sold him to LAFC, who proceeded to loan him to the Lights. He has not played for Vegas since April 16 (which seems to have been a key date for them) and is apparently back in LA. In the 4 games since then, the Lights are 0-1-3 including a loss in Monterey’s inaugural home game.

With Trejo in the lineup Vegas typically plays with him as a solo striker; without him they have resorted to a 4-4-2. Their only goal in his absence was scored by Alejandro Lara, a center back, off a corner.

So, no Trejo, no Jennings, no threat, basically. Also in the Legion’s favor is the field. Obviously, it’s a home game, but it’s also a much bigger field than Cashman Field in Las Vegas. Nominally a soccer-specific stadium, it is in reality a converted baseball stadium, and is both short and narrow. The opposite of Protective Stadium, in other words. The Legion should be able to exploit that.

Prediction: Even if Danny Trejo is available, that just means the Legion have one threat to focus on, and he’s probably not 100% fit anyway. I see the Three Sparks taking all 3 points and likely with a multi-goal margin.

Best of the rest

There are several other games being played tonight. Of most significance to the Legion, The™ Miami FC host Detroit City (6:00pm). The result of that game will determine how far the Legion can rise in the standings. If Detroit wins, the Legion can move up to 6th. If Miami wins or ties, 7th is the best possible move. Also a good game tonight is El Paso Locomotive v. Sacramento Republic (8:00pm). The Locomotive are recovering from a very poor start and Sacramento have been inconsistent lately after a strong start. Could be interesting.

On to Saturday, and the Legion are off again. There are no afternoon games this week, with no kickoffs until 6:00pm. The best early game will be the Tampa Bay Rowdies v. Pittsburgh Riverhounds (6:30pm). We know how strong the Hounds are, and the Rowdies just came off a massive 5-1 thumping of Phoenix Rising in Phoenix for easily their best game of this season.

At 7:30pm is an attractive matchup of 1 v.2 in the West as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks travel to San Antonio is what promises to be an epic contest. The two teams are tied on points (Colorado has played one more game though) so everything is on the table in this one.

Other than that, not much that appeals greatly, and Sunday’s only game (Loudoun United v. Memphis 901, 3:00pm) is more or less a given.

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