If you did not already know, Las Vegas does have a professional soccer team, that team is the Las Vegas Lights FC.
I recently sat down with head coach, US soccer legend Eric Wynalda and talked about his recent re-signing with the team and why he decided to come back. I got his thoughts on the season and what to expect, moving forward. Which leads to the obvious question right? Why come back? “So the reason for coming back was I just felt like there was so much unfinished business.” I know what you’re thinking. Ok, we’ve heard that one before. But you weren’t in that room, sitting with coach, seeing the passion and desire, that look in his eye saying, Just wait and see. There is something different to him. His coaching style, his kindness and family like feeling he gives to all the fans and families of all his players. He truly, is not your Regular Futbol coach.
Wynaldas move to Las Vegas wasn’t full of Red Carpets and Roses as he went from watching the USL Championship game on his couch with his son to the next day hearing about and watching his home burn during the devastating California wild fires just last year. He went from living in a Beautiful home, to a Resort at Tahiti Village, to now finally having a place to call home, once again as he and his family have found and settled into their new home in Summerlin.
Eric Wynalda returned to Las Vegas with the hopes of turning a team that had been known more for its crazy promotions and rowdy fans, rather than its play on the field, into a team that he called “The Most Interesting Club” in the world.
One thing that’s always hard for a new coach and new players is to create an Identity. As for current Owner, Brett Lashbrook, he always tried to find a Brand for the team. When asked how he felt about Brett and his Ideas Wynalda had this to say. “Brett wanted to be called the most interesting Team in the world or whatever, and I want to change that, I want to be the most interesting Club, because a club, is something that we can all be a part of.” A bold statement for someone who was known to disagree with Brett from time to time during the season about some of Brett’s promotions or ideas. But one thing is for sure, Brett likes to keep the fans entertained.
Knowing “El Padrino” or “The Godfather” for those that don’t speak Spanish and how much he loves the fans and loves to interact with them, I asked him how he truly felt about the soccer fans, we have here in Las Vegas. “I just think there’s a real soccer IQ in this town, It’s not just people that come to the game because it’s fun, this is people that actually know what they’re talking about.” Now fan support hasn’t really been an issue for the Lights. “Our fans, are the greatest asset that we have.” Said Wynalda.
Wynalda has also been known for coming up with ideas and superstitions of his own. One being a tradition that I’ve been a part of first hand. Wynalda loves his pregame “Tail Gate” hotdog. He talks about how the tradition got started by saying, “Derrick made the hot dog, but I think it might have been Jack that convinced me to do it.” Derrick Clarke and Jack Whitefoot are both members of The Electric Company SG one of The Premier Supporter groups for the Las Vegas Lights FC, who hold a tailgate before every Lights FC home game. Let’s hope Electric Company keeps those hot dogs stocked up for next years tailgates.
Out of all the people that I’ve gotten to interview, with my time in the media, I must say that Wynalda is by far the most easiest, most comfortable person I’ve had the pleasure of sitting and chopping it up with. Not only does he “Tell it like it is” but he keeps you engaged in your conversation as if you’ve known each other for years but yet you want to hear more.
With so much more to get to it’s better if you hear it from the horses mouth as they say. My sit down with Wynalda is definitely one that you’ll want to hear. I’ll end with this. Wynalda said, “We don’t want to go just to compete, we want to go to beat people.” The question remains, Will you be there for the “Beatings” that they are about to hand out? We shall see Las Vegas.
Don’t forget to check out the podcast, for the full audio interview at Anchor.FM/JoseV also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
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