The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC begin their home 2023 USL Championship campaign on Saturday evening as Hartford Athletic visits Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs. The first 500 fans will receive a t-shirt, courtesy of Weidner Apartment Homes, with tickets remaining available HERE. On Wednesday evening the Switchbacks notched a brilliant stoppage-time win in El Paso, with debutante Duke Lacroix giving Colorado Springs all three points with a 92nd-minute winner after a delightful through-ball from Deshane Beckford.
Peek at Hartford:
Last Saturday the Athletic dropped their season opener 5-3 to Monterey Bay FC at Cardinale Stadium in Seaside, California. Four former Switchbacks now ply their trade for Head Coach Tab Ramos’ Hartford Athletic: Elvis Amoh, Andre Lewis, Triston Hodge, and Beverly Makangila. The Switchbacks fell 2-0 last season to Hartford Athletic at Trinity Health Stadium in Connecticut on June 28th.
What the Switchbacks Say:
Switchbacks Head Coach and General Manager Stephen Hogan:
“It helps us a little bit [that Hartford have four players who used to play with the Switchbacks] in the one way that we know [some of] their personnel and their players; we know their strengths and weaknesses. And it hurts us a little bit because if you look back to us going to Hartford last year, Andre Lewis was the best player on the field – and I think Elvis is going to be like that [on Saturday].”
“I haven’t made a final decision yet [on lineup changes for Saturday]. We have to make one or two decisions on [work] loads and bodies and all sorts of stuff, but the understanding is that nothing will change in terms on the mindset, even if there are one or two [lineup] changes.”
“[In El Paso] I thought Jairo [Henríquez] for the goal was unbelievable. It was the reason we put him there. Once Maalique [Foster] isolated [Nick] Hinds – and he put him on his tail twice – and as that happens Jairo’s movement is phenomenal. Drew’s [Skundrich] work rate and running box to box was phenomenal. They all stood out. And Matt [Mahoney] and Jimmy [Ockford] – the old guard – didn’t really get bothered with anything and they just do their jobs. You’re right [to name as Better Business Bureau Man of the Match on XTRASports 1300AM] Macca [King]. And the other one that stood out to me was Speedy [Devon Williams]. His control of the game – even when El Paso were on top of us which happens in El Paso no matter who you are. I think his composure on the ball when they let us play a bit really stood out, so I have to say Speedy as well.”
“It’s great to be home – we can’t wait to see everyone! The staff asked the players ‘don’t bore us and why not make it a community thing?’ We’ll be in front of goal and it’s just up to us to score all our chances.”
Winger and match-winner on Wednesday night Duke Lacroix:
“It was a great feeling [to score the winning goal vs El Paso] and a great result at the death with the final kick of the game. It was good to get the first result on the road and to get the first three points for the season and start the year off right, but we have a quick turnaround. We’re excited to be in front of our home fans and have another good evening this weekend. It’s still a little bit early [in the season] to figure out teams’ routines, but [Hartford] are a good squad – they have some pace and ability and we’re prepared for them to come out firing. It’s early in the season and everyone has everything to play for, so we expect them to come in here and have a good game.”
Hartford’s opening-day match against Monterey Bay was as wild a game as the USL Championship saw in week one. The Athletic edged possession in the Golden State, but Monterey Bay were still able to muster 11 shots – five of them on target. Hartford have to find a way of controlling the center of the field against the Switchbacks. The central three of the aforementioned Andre Lewis, Jeciel Cedeño, and Kembo Kibato gave far too much space to Monterey Bay, and Saturday will prove to be an uphill climb for the Athletic unless they can produce some sort of tangible wall in front of their back-four.
The Switchbacks have only two days of preparation after their brilliant stoppage-time win in El Paso late on Wednesday night, but Hartford’s match last Saturday in California saw over 3,100 miles of one-way travel put on the legs of Tab Ramos’ team. There were too many positive individual performances to mention in the Switchbacks’ win in Far West Texas – but of equal note was the relentless energy and pressing that fans in Colorado Springs love. Three more points are on the way if the Switchbacks are able to regenerate their legs after such a short turnaround and put in another all-action 90-minute display on Saturday night.