Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, COLO (Ocotber 22, 2022) – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC have earned a match in the second round of the USL Championship playoffs, after defeating Rio Grande Valley FC 3-0.
The first half was a tight match, with both teams fighting hard for dominance. The teams were almost perfectly matched, with Switchbacks holding 46& of the possession but with an 85% passing accuracy. The second half would prove to be much different though, with COS taking the clear lead.
The Switchbacks came out hungry for a goal, and with 7 shots to RGV’s 1, it was clear that they weren’t playing around. It paid off for the first time in the 84th minute, as #14 Jairo Henriquez as #55 Triston Hodge had a huge midfield cross to Henriquez, who slipped it to the left of the goalie past a screened play to hit the bottom left corner of the net.
The second goal of the night came from #21 Aaron Wheeler, as #11 Michee Ngalina smartly chooses to cross the ball rather than attempt the shot, leaving Wheeler wide open to go right through the goalkeeper in the 90′. An unbelievable second goal from the vet came only three minutes later, as he tucks it in effortlessly to the center of the goal from right outside the 18 yard box.
The Switchbacks have guaranteed themselves a match for the Western Conference Semifinals. They will learn if they play home or away based on the results of the San Diego Loyal/Oakland Roots quarterfinals match tomorrow night. For more information, head HERE.
On how he feels after a playoff win:
“So the people at USL tactics, they can have some of that. All the pundits, they can have some of that. People didn’t believe in us and not only did we win, we won in a very clean way. We dominated most of the possession, at least the meaningful possession, and we put ourselves in a position to score five or six goals tonight, and ultimately we banged in three right at the end.”
On overcoming the doubts after RGV’s strong end of season performance:
” 3-0. I mean there is no better way, everyone is saying they’re (RGV) the hottest team in the league and all that. I have great respect for Wilmer (Cabrera), he’s done an amazing job with what he has there and they were one of the hottest teams in the league. I think people slept on the fact that we can dominate a game and that we are very talented and can beat anyone on a given night. And now it’s about getting hot at the right time.”
On his confidence in the roster going into the match:
“Well there is a reason I didn’t make a sub until the 70th minute. I trusted the group that I started but I also trust our bench and I know that Wheeler brings a different level of intensity and physicality to a match. And tonight he also brought his shooting boots, so that was great. But with guys like Michee [Ngalina] on the field you can always stretch the game and he started one of those goals and he was dangerous all night. I’m just so happy, it’s a year’s worth of work that goes into what these players put forth. Even our players that were injured were in here hours before the match doing their rehab and doing the right thing and trusting the process.”
On earning a home game despite being undervalued:
“From a recruiting standpoint people now know that this is a place that you can come and challenge for a trophy. We’re still a couple games away from that so I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I can feel it and I can sense it and I’ve been doing this for a long time, that feeling doesn’t come without merit. I think our locker room has moved this club forward in a massive way this year and hopefully the city feels the same way as well and can get behind this. This could be a pro sports story and franchise that people read about in ten years if we continue to grow it the way we want to and need to.
On getting the playoff win:
“That was the mindset. We were ready for that. To push them outside, to play our game, and push really hard.”
On the team’s mindset at 0-0 in the 70th:
“We talked about it at halftime. We knew we were going strong, we talked about keeping the ball moving quick and putting it on the goalie to stop us. When we have the opportunity, we need to finish the play, and we did that.”
On getting a chance to move forward:
“Trust me, we’re ready for all this. We’re looking forward to the opportunity and we hope we have another home game here. We’ll just work hard to that and wait for the next game.”
On the feeling after the win:
“Fantastic. I’m not the kind of person that does this, but there was so much outside noise that was saying we weren’t going to get a result, that said because we lost Hadji Barry we weren’t going to get a result. I know it’s just one of four that we need to get but man, the resilience in this team, we’ve got guys coming off the bench, and Wheel’s [Wheeler] scores two goals – I’m feeling fantastic.”
On the team’s feeling going into the next matchup:
“Feeling fantastic. Whoever it is, whether it’s home or away, we are going to prep just like we did this week. We’re going to go into it fully flying, fully confident. I can’t wait for this group to take it on next week. [insert by Matt Mahoney]: ‘Let’s go Switchbacks, let’s go Cam!”
On his feelings after the match:
“Great. It’s my first playoff game, so i had to find my footing in the first few minutes but once I did I felt I did well and the team did well. We stuck to the game plan and put RGV on their heels. We played for ninety minutes and RGV played for seventy. We got three, they got zero, we’re moving on, they’re going home.”
On moving to the inside:
“We had that adjusted throughout the week in training. Seb [Anderson] was originally going to be the right back, and I was going to be the center back. Me and Seb love playing with each other, we gel well together and have good chemistry, so being inside felt good. That’s my natural position, so I was comfortable there.”
On looking forward to next week:
“Another result. We’ll put this one behind us. We celebrate tonight but then we put it behind us and look forward to next weekend. Hopefully it’s at home, because you know what we do when we have the fans behind us.”
Man of the Match: Aaron Wheeler
Saves: COS: Caldwell (1); RGV Deric (1), Miller (2)
Goals: COS: Henriquez (84′)(A:Hodge); Wheeler (90′)(A:Ngalina); Wheeler (94′)(A:Echevarria)
Discipline: COS: YC: Amoh (29′); RGV: Ricketts (23′)