The Switchbacks kick off Cinco de Mayo celebrations on Thursday evening in downtown Colorado Springs by hosting the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at Weidner Field. Gates open at 6pm, with the first 500 fans receiving a free rally towel. $6 premium Whiska-ritas from 291 Colorado Whiskey will be available all night long. Tickets are available HERE
Last Saturday night, the Switchbacks stormed to a 3-0 win against Oakland Roots SC behind a Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado Man of the Match performance from goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell. Caldwell and Switchbacks captain Hadji Barry were both named to the USL Championship Team of the Week on Tuesday following the win in Oakland. Barry scored in the 92nd minute, after second half goals from Zach Zandi and Michee Ngalina.
RGVFC enter Thursday’s match at Weidner Field with a record of 3-5-0 in the 2022 USL Championship season after falling to a 2-1 defeat to Orange County SC last Saturday at H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas. Head Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s team have scored eight goals this season and have conceded 10 times.
What the Switchbacks Say:
Goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell: “That’s always nice [being selected to the USL Team of the Week], but it’s much nicer to come out [of Oakland] with three points and a clean sheet. That was certainly a group effort – in terms of some of the boys who had equally important, game-saving plays. Jimmy [Ockford] had one early in the second half to deny one on the doorstep, and Malik [Johnson] in the second half. So the whole thing feels good. By this point we kind of know who we are and how we need to prepare, and in this league there are no easy games. We’re going to have to make sure to leave the weekend at the weekend and be geared-up and prepare well for a good test Thursday.”
Head Coach and General Manager Brendan Burke: “We talked at halftime about how Jeff was keeping us in the game [against Oakland] and we owed him a response in the second half, and I thought we got that. We can’t do any better than we’re doing on the field and I’d hope that the building is full [on Thursday]. It feels like all we are [this season] is on the road, but it’s great to have a home game mixed in here so we can correct the wrong that was the Memphis [901 FC] game in so many different ways. We need to put on a big performance in front of a big home crowd and then find that energy to go back on the road for three more games.”
RGVFC Ones to Watch: “[Frank] López is the key guy – he’s the guy who has shown that he can score 12 to 15 goals in a league season, so we need to be aware of his movements. But they also have a couple wingers that play in that hybrid outside back position that we like a lot and that we want to focus on as well. [RGV] are a little more conservative than some groups. They do try to manage the ball, but they are also willing to get behind the ball in big numbers – they showed that here last year – so we’re definitely going to have to take the game to them.”
Vargish’s View: RGVFC have only scored more than a single goal in a game once this season – a 2-1 win against Sacramento Republic FC on April 23rd. They’re regimented, defensively-minded, tactically sound and well set-up. No opponent has scored more than twice in a match against the Toros this season.
The Switchbacks are not your run-of-the-mill USL Championship club. They’re atop the Western Conference for a reason. Brendan Burke’s club win games 3-0 even after struggling to find their feet early in a match like last weekend in Oakland. The Roots put the Switchbacks under the cosh as Oakland looked to make their mark against the league’s best. Jeff Caldwell produced a spectacular performance to stymie Oakland, and when the Switchbacks found their legs and offensive rhythm they tore through a stout defense and left California with another three points. That’s the mark of true quality. Buoyed by a Cinco de Mayo crowd at Weidner Field, the Switchbacks will control possession on Thursday, and if they’re able to convert the chances that will inevitably come their way, another win is in the cards.