Las Vegas Lights and Eric Wynalda part ways after one season in charge

USL Championship side Las Vegas Lights fired manager and former United States international Eric Wynalda late on Wednesday.

Wynalda and the Lights had played just one match on the season, a 1-1 draw against the San Diego Loyal on March 7, before the season was shut down. His overall record with Las Vegas was 11-15-9.

The move comes at a time when the USL and the USL Players Association have reached a tentative deal on return-to-play amid the coronavirus pandemic, with a deal expected to be ratified in the next week. The league is expected to return to the field on July 11.

Reached by telephone, Las Vegas owner Brett Lashbrook said: "Something happened today. It is 100 percent my decision. I woke up this morning not anticipating this, or wanting this to happen or knowing anything about this. By the end of the day, I felt like it was my choice and that it was the right thing to do."

Lashbrook added that the move had nothing to do with the team's finances, the league's return to play, or the coronavirus pandemic.

"The timing of it is far from ideal," Lashbrook added. "We have a game next month."

Wynalda responded by saying: "In Las Vegas, for Brett Lashbrook, it's never been about soccer. I'm a soccer guy and that's the reason why we parted ways."

Lashbrook did admit that he had asked the Las Vegas players to sign a waiver releasing the team from liability if a player contracted COVID-19. The players refused, opting to turn the request over to the USL Players Association. In the interim, Wynalda and his staff were prohibited from holding formal practices.

"If we're practicing in a public park, which is where we practice, there has to be an acknowledgement of that risk," Lashbrook said.

One source with knowledge of the situation said that the team trained on Wednesday, but that other than dropping off equipment, Wynalda didn't take part. When asked if Wynalda was running practices when he wasn't supposed to, Lashbrook declined to comment.

Wynalda is one of the more decorated players in U.S. history, scoring 35 goals in 106 appearances. At the time of his international retirement he was the all-time leading scorer for the U.S. men. His club career saw him play for the likes of 1. FC Saarbrucken, Vfl Bochum, the San Jose Clash, the Miami Fusion and the Chicago Fire. He had previously managed amateur side Cal FC and the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.