The Colorado Springs Switchbacks will be keen to avoid a case of the blues in the Bluff City as they face Memphis 901 FC on Saturday evening at AutoZone Park. The match in the Volunteer State will kick off at 6pm MT, with live coverage by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, beginning at 5:30pm on XTRA Sports1300AM.
Last Friday the Switchbacks suffered their first home loss of the season, falling 3-2 at Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs to the El Paso Locomotive. Goals from Jimmy Ockford and Romario Williams were not enough as the Locomotive avenged a March 15th loss at the hands of the Switchbacks in El Paso.
What the Switchbacks Say:
Switchbacks Head Coach Stephen Hogan: “Upsetting and frustrating were the two words that we used [to describe the game against El Paso]. I think in the first 30 minutes we came out flat. You know funnily enough, scientifically, Alan [McCann, Switchbacks Director of Sport Performance and Assistant Coach] put together some numbers and said that we’ve got to get through the first 20 minutes, and we didn’t because of the delay in Charleston and whatever else. And that’s not an excuse; it’s just interesting for me to learn that in terms of managing the energy when we have to do that again. But [El Paso] ripped us apart in terms of their movement off the ball [among] their front four, and not many teams will do that because of the quality [El Paso] have. That’s something we have to work on and have talked about in practice over the last few days because it could happen again so we just want to be wary of it.
“I honestly thought we should have been level at halftime – not deserved it, but we should have been level with the chances that we created. The thing that’s different with this team is the positive reaction after we concede, and it’s been happening all year. And in the second half we bettered them for 20, 25 minutes, but we didn’t take any chances until we got the fantastic header off the corner from Jimmy [Ockford]. The third goal [from El Paso] sort of killed us. I think [before El Paso’s third] it would have been a 2-2 draw and [El Paso] would have deserved the win anyway. We’re always honest about it and I’m not going to lie; it wasn’t our best performance.”
Left-back Patrick Seagrist. Seagrist spent last season with Memphis 901 FC: “It’ll be good to see a few of the Beale Street Boys, but nothing light; we’re going in to win. We’re going to focus on our game and the things we’ve portrayed on the field. Coming off a tough loss to El Paso we have a lot to work off of and we’re upset and we’re coming in for three points. We want to keep that [away form] momentum – we’ve been good on the road and we want to continue to do that. After coming from [the win in] Charleston we want to come in to Memphis and show them what we’re all about.”
Look at Memphis 901 FC: On Wednesday Memphis 901 were eliminated from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Birmingham Legion. Memphis are 2-2-3 in USL Championship play in 2023 after starting their season with back-to-back losses. In their most recent league match, Memphis defeated Hartford Athletic 2-0 on May 6th behind goals from Ivorian midfielder Laurent Kissiedou and Jamaican Rashawn Dally.
“The struggles [for Memphis] have sort of turned around and they’re starting to play good football,” said Head Coach Hogan. “They try and play the right way [and] it’s enjoyable to watch. We know a few of their players so it’ll be good to say hello and see them. The understanding, again, is taking care of their attacking pieces while we move the ball the right way. That’s the most important thing. And we need to pin them in as soon as we can – pin them in and put them under a bit of pressure that they’ve maybe not seen yet. We have to ask some questions of them. They’ll play through Aaron Molloy – me and Alan [McCann] have known him since he was 17. He’s a very good [and] intelligent footballer. He ticks them over and we need to take care of that position. Now, knowing that we know him so well, do Memphis go beyond him a little quicker? That’s something that we’re talking about as well and our defensive spacing and managing the press at the right time has to happen – if you do that and take [Molloy] out of the game then you can counter them and you can move the ball through the lines in his area. So that’s how they’ll play and how we’ll hopefully be able to counter it.”
Vargish’s View: Memphis have been impossible to predict this season. In their shutout wins against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros (3-0 on April 22nd) and Hartford Athletic, Memphis looked bright, disciplined and full of energy and ideas. Even in Wednesday’s lopsided Open Cup defeat, Memphis dominated possession (67%) and had almost twice the number of passes (524 to 268). But you are what your record says, and entering Saturday’s contest Memphis have taken 9 points from 7 matches.
The Switchbacks need to capitalize on the fresher legs afforded by a full week of preparation. Dubliner Aaron Molloy is a top player. So is Tennessee native Phillip Goodrum. Bruno Lapa is a fabulously effervescent playmaker. Bill Hamid is a two-time CONCACAF Gold Cup winning goalkeeper. There are top players across the Memphis squad. But there’s no taking away from the fact these players suffered a demoralizing defeat on Wednesday evening, and the Switchbacks need to push and press early in Saturday’s match and establish their physical advantage.