“I’ve never played for a draw in my life.” - Sir Alex Ferguson.
Sunday afternoon sees the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC play their first game in 2017 north of the border as they travel to Vancouver, British Columbia for a long-awaited match against the Whitecaps FC 2.
Vancouver eliminated the Switchbacks from the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs after winning their Western Conference Quarterfinal 2-1 at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs last September.
Two consecutive road ties, the most recent coming in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw in Portland, Oregon against the Timbers 2, have the Switchbacks riding high in the USL’s Western Conference table – in 3rd place at the time of writing.
While ties don’t win championships, not losing – specifically on the road in a stacked Western Conference – has an immense value to Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Even against Portland we kept pushing for that winning goal. It’s never been our game plan to play for a point. If we lose we lose, but a point is obviously better than a loss, especially on the road. But our focus is always on going for goals.”
“We haven’t given up a goal in two games which is what we strive for in every match,” said central defender Josh Phillips. “Vancouver have got a lot of talent in their organization and they’ll be tough – even more so at home. We want 3 points from all our games, and we are always happy with a shutout like against Portland. We’ll all keep working to turn these games we’ve tied into big wins.”
Switchbacks winger Masta Kacher was named as a starter on the USL’s Team of the Week after a blistering display that saw Kacher bag a brace in the Switchbacks’ most recent game at Weidner Field – a 3-0 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks FC on May 5th.
“It feels good,” said Kacher when asked about being recognized by the USL. “But as coach [Trittschuh] said, ‘when we play as a team like we did against Tulsa, anyone can be on the Team of the Week!’”
Born in Algeria, Kasher immigrated to Montreal, Quebec, Canada at the age of 5 with his family and now represents Canada with immense pride. “I’m Canadian. It’s not just a piece of paper; I have really adopted the culture and I feel a part of it – it will make this game even more special. Going back to Canada this weekend is something I’m really happy for. They [Whitecaps FC 2] have real talent and there are a lot of good players on that team and in Canada. If we can get on top early they’ll be frustrated because they are a young team so we know we must start the game well. We have done that at home but now we have to do that in away games as well.”
WFC2 have endured an inconsistent start to the 2017 season and have suffered back-to-back 3-1 road losses – to Swope Park Rangers and the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, respectively. Sunday’s match against the Switchbacks will be WFC2’s third game of 2017 at Thunderbird Stadium in Vancouver. The Whitecaps FC 2 will continue to split their 2017 home games between Thunderbird Stadium and McLeod Athletic Park.
American striker Thomas Sanner usually leads the forward line for WFC2 and will no doubt be desperate to help arrest the Whitecaps 2’s first two-match losing streak of 2017. Pacific Northwest native Spencer Richey has become a fixture in net for WFC2 behind a defense marshaled by Matthew Baldisimo – older brother of teammate Michael Baldisimo.
Sem de Wit and Will Seymore have seen time in the heart of the WFC2 defense, while dangerous young striker Gloire Amanda could start again after notching his first-ever professional goal in WFC2’s aforementioned 3-1 loss to the Tulsa Roughnecks.
The Switchbacks started the 0-0 draw against the Portland Timbers 2 with a defense consisting of Josh Suggs, Josh Phillips, Sean McFarlane, and Jordan Burt. While no starters for the upcoming match in Vancouver have yet been even hinted at by the Switchbacks’ coaching staff, the rock-solid collective defensive performance against T2 is sure to provide plenty of food for pre-game thought.
“I’m really happy for Sean,” said McFarlane’s central defensive partner Josh Phillips when asked about the shutout in Portland. “Sean has been really solid at the back and hopefully we can build a great partnership together for the rest of the season. Everyone is responsible for us to score and I should have taken my own chance against Portland – hopefully I can when I get another one.”
Steve Trittschuh’s club traveled back to Colorado Springs after the noontime kickoff against the Timbers 2, and will make their way back to the northwest after two days of training in the shadow of Pikes Peak. “It’s not close to ideal in terms of travel but our guys are mentally tough so I know they’ll show up and play,” said Trittschuh after Friday’s high-altitude practice. “We need to win each series. We play most teams twice this season, and if we can win those we’ll be in the playoffs. Our job is to win all our games at home, and we know that 1 point on the road will mean we’ve won the series. But that doesn’t mean we’re ever satisfied with any tie – we want to win each and every game, home or away.”
“It’s a lot of travel but we just have to mentally push through it,” said Switchbacks captain Rony Argueta. “Physically it’s hard but we’ll get back to 100% soon. As soon as the game starts we’ll be ready – as always.”
Weidner Field will witness a rematch between Sunday’s opponents on July 8th as Kneaders Bakery and Café will sponsor the 4th Poster Giveaway Night in Colorado Springs.