Eric Wynalda: “I have unfinished business here. I want to win and I want to win in Las Vegas.” (Photo courtesy of Las Vegas Lights FC)

LAS VEGAS — Eric Wynalda will return as head coach of the Las Vegas Lights FC next year.

Lights FC announced Thursday that the former U.S. international striker will return to the team for the 2020 USL Championship season after signing him to a contract.

The team did not quality for the playoffs, but improved greatly over 2018.

“I have unfinished business here,” Wynalda said in a statement. “I want to win and I want to win in Las Vegas. It’s an honor to be back with the club. We’re very optimistic about not just making the playoffs, but being a challenger for the title next year.”

Defensively, the Lights ranked as ninth best in the West after being the fourth worst out of 33 teams in the league in 2018.

“Eric embodies what our club stands for — and what we strive to become. His demeanor, his mindset and his desire to dominate remains a great fit for Lights FC,” Lights FC owner and CEO Brett Lashbrook said. “Our expectations both in the short and long-term remain enormously high. I’m proud to have Eric back in 2020.”

Wynalda’s Major League Soccer connections allowed Lights FC to have high caliber players with national team background to play in Las Vegas last season, including Dejan Jakovic (Canada) and Rodolfo Zelaya (El Salvador) of LAFC, and Cristian Martinez (Panama) of the Chicago Fire.

“We were always about two or three players away from being a team that could compete on a consistent basis and next year that will be the case,” Wynalda said. “This will be a more powerful roster with more strength and experience. That’ll be the reason why we’ll have more success in 2020 than we did this year.”