June 18, 2021 - 9:15 am
The Las Vegas Lights FC may have limped out the gates to a 1-4-1 record, but striker Cal Jennings has gotten off to a fast start.
Jennings, who is signed to LAFC but has been on loan with Vegas through the early part of the season, has done everything for the Lights offensively through the team’s first six games.
He leads the team in goals with three, is toward the top of the USL in shots on goal with 14 and has an assist.
“I have an attacking mindset,” Jennings said. “I like taking players one-on-one, but can also find spaces to run off the ball and be ready for a teammate to put me in a good position to score.”
The role of being a playmaker and big-time scoring threat is a familiar one for Jennings. He played college soccer at Central Florida, where he was the second-leading scorer in the nation as a junior in 2018 with 20 goals. He followed that up with 18 goals as a senior in 2019, which was tied for first in the nation, and finished his career at UCF with a laundry list of accolades.
“I loved UCF. It was a great opportunity for me to grow as a person and player,” he said. “I ended up scoring a lot of goals, which was great. It was a system I felt I fit very well in.”
Coming out of UCF, Jennings was selected 17th in the first round of the 2020 MLS draft by FC Dallas. He was released by the club a month later and signed with the USL’s Memphis 901 for the 2020 season.
He came on strong for Memphis toward the end of last season, scoring in the team’s final four games. He finished with nine goals and capped off the season with a three-goal performance against Birmingham in the season finale.
This year with the Lights, Jennings finds himself back as his team’s primary scoring threat.
“I’ve always been a striker. I’ve always been in an attacking position, and I’ve always been a goal scorer,” he said. “There’s always pressure as a goal scorer to score goals. That’s my job and what I need to be focused on every day.”
Jennings also added that any extra attention he faces from defenses will only open more scoring opportunities for his teammates. He also said that he has improved his playmaking skills.
“My game’s developed in a way where I cannot only be the one to finish the play, but I can also create opportunities for others,” he said. “That’s what I want to continue to work on. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter who scores the goals as long as your scoring more than the other team.”
Jennings was acquired by LAFC in March but has yet to play a single minute for the club. He stated that he’s solely focused on being a Lights player for the time being. His only goal is doing what he can to help the club get wins.
He’s also excited by the opportunity to get quality game minutes with the Lights against USL level competition. He sees the experience as one that will help him in the long run.
“Just to continue to earn trust with the team and gain confidence has been great,” Jennings said. “I just want to be there to help my teammates in whatever way possible.”
Contact Aidan Subira at email@example.com
Who: Lights FC vs Orange County SC
What: USL Western Conference Pacific matchup
When: 7:30 p.m.,Saturday
Where: Cashman Center
How to Watch: ESPN+
Lights FC outlook: This will be the first time this season the Lights have played multiple games in a single week, having played LA Galaxy II in a road matchup Wednesday night. The Lights sit in last place in the Pacific Division.
Orange County outlook: Orange County sits in third place in the Pacific Division and is coming off a 1-0 win over the Oakland Roots last week. Orange County is unbeaten in four of its last five outings but lost to a Tacoma Defiance team earlier in the season that the Lights defeated 2-0.
Aidan Subira Review-Journal