The Switchbacks begin a Texas two-step on Saturday evening as they face the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at H-E-B Park in Edinburg. The match will kick off at 6:30pm MT, with live coverage by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, beginning at 6pm on XTRA Sports1300 AM. Following Saturday’s match, the Switchbacks will head north to the Alamo City for a Tuesday night clash with Western Conference leaders San Antonio FC.
Rio Grande Valley FC are winners of two straight after sweeping aside New Mexico United 3-1 in Edinburg last Saturday. Former Cal State Fullerton Titan Christian Pinzón notched the winner against New Mexico and was Pinzón’s fifth consecutive match with a goal.
On Friday – in what could be a critical boost for their playoff run – the Switchbacks announced the return of Sebastian Anderson. Anderson spent parts of the last three seasons with the Switchbacks while on loan from the Colorado Rapids.
What the Switchbacks Say:
Sebastian Anderson: “I’m beyond excited – it’s great to be back here and to help the team in any way that I can, so I’m just excited to be here right now. Obviously I’m new to the group, but I’ve been watching some games and following along and I think it’s important for us to be able to keep the ball and then also to attack them [RGV] really direct. It’s important to get balls in behind and get our fast, forward guys running and get goals. It means everything [to have the support of Head Coach Burke]. I feel like we have a really good relationship – we left off on a pretty high note when I left last year and it’s great to have somebody that trusts me and knows my ability and to just have my back. And obviously I go out on the field and produce and do all I can for him.”
Switchbacks Head Coach and General Manager Brendan Burke: “Seb adds a lot of quality, adds pace, adds intelligence, and some versatility as well. [Getting him back] is a big boost. I’m really happy to have Seb back in the group. You can already see it and it’s already helped [that Anderson was with the Switchbacks last season]. There’s already a comfort level with him around 80% of the team.
“We left a lot of chances on the table [in a 2-1 defeat to Detroit City FC last Saturday at Weidner Field] and we didn’t force them to come out of the block they like to play in, and we paid for it. [Detroit] had probably three shots on goal and two goals and we had a whole bunch of really high-quality chances that we didn’t put away and you’re usually going to pay for that.”
Look at Rio Grande Valley: “Their front three have changed a little bit with [Jonas] Fjeldberg,” said Brendan Burke. “And [Christian] Pinzón is on the best scoring streak of anybody in the league, so they have three really shifty guys up top if you count [Ricky] Ruiz as well. They’re interchangeable and also a little bit unpredictable in the way they play, so they’re a totally different team [from a 3-2 defeat to the Switchbacks on May 5th at Weidner Field] and they’re really hot right now and they’re probably in a must-win situation. All our focus is on Saturday. Keeping the ball and making them run defensively [is key for us on Saturday]. We are good at keeping the ball when we’re on – and we need to be on. We had a really good home stand, bar missing a few chances against Detroit. We almost took 12 points from 12 [available] at home, which is phenomenal at this point in the season, especially against the quality of opponent. Those were playoff teams – with Phoenix being the anomaly there, but [Phoenix] are traditionally a playoff team. I’m happy with the home stand and now we need to pick up at least one or two wins on the road to ensure that we’re playing at home in the playoffs this year.”
Vargish’s View: Saturday evening is a tricky test for the Switchbacks as they will be facing an attacking unit that’s as potent as any in the league. Rio Grande Valley FC will be buoyed by winning their last two matches, and will be desperate to continue that streak in front of their home crowd as they currently sit just outside the Western Conference playoff places.
The goal for this two-game Lone Star State swing is clear for the Switchbacks: pick up some points and they solidify their position heading into the playoffs and inch ever closer to guaranteeing a postseason match in front of their home fans at Weidner Field. Saturday’s match will undoubtedly be a feisty affair, and the Switchbacks must keep their composure and control possession to leave border country with points.