The 2019 USL Championship season is finally here, with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC opening their campaign this Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy II in Carson, California at Dignity Health Sports Park Track & Field Stadium.
Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, along with the Trailheads Supporters Group, will be hosting a viewing party for Saturday evening’s season opener in downtown Colorado Springs. The match will be streamed live upstairs at Jack Quinn’s, with various prizes on hand for those in attendance. Four tickets to Base Camp at Weidner Field will be given away for the Switchbacks’ home opener on March 16th, along with two Family 4-Packs and one Couples 2-Pack of VIP tickets for the Colorado Inferno FC match on Sunday, March 10th at SoccerHaus in Colorado Springs. In addition, Jack Quinn’s will be giving away a $25 gift card for the prize drawings, with the Trailheads also providing memorabilia from previous Switchbacks seasons, including a Ziggy mascot doll as part of the giveaway. A $10 beer and burger special will be on hand at Jack Quinn’s for the watch party, with kickoff for the Switchbacks match in California at 8pm MT.
Tricky 16-year-old midfielder Efrain Alvarez was brought off the bench by the Galaxy in their opening day MLS victory against the Chicago Fire last Saturday. Alvarez, who starred for Los Dos last season in the USL, assisted Daniel Steres’ 68th minute goal as the Galaxy went on to defeat the Fire 2-1 behind a late Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner that came after a delightful touch from Alvarez in the buildup.
Despite Los Dos’ loss of Alvarez to Los Angeles’ first team, the Galaxy II maintain a roster stacked with talent. Sierra Leonean forward Augustine Williams and fellow striker Ethan Zubak form a deadly forward duo when paired together up top for Los Dos. On September 1st of 2018, the Galaxy II defeated the Switchbacks 3-1 in Carson, California behind a brace from Costa Rican striker Ariel Lassiter. Following the season, Lassiter left Los Angeles and returned to his homeland with Liga FPD powerhouse and 29-time league champions Alajuelense.
The Switchbacks hosted Los Dos in the opening USL match of the 2018 season at Weidner Field, with the home team winning by a comfortable 2-0 margin that was sealed through a second half Jordan Burt penalty kick. “I’m really excited for Saturday,” said the now magnificently mustachioed Burt. “The first game of the regular season is always more exciting and we have a lot of eagerness to get started. We have a great group here, and road games are always a test and this one will be a grind.”
Freshly signed Panamanian Ernesto Walker could feature against the Switchbacks, along with fellow newcomer and former University of Washington standout Michael Gallagher, although details about Los Dos’ lineup remain unclear given that their preseason match last weekend was played behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. Don Tchilao, who excelled with the Oregon State Beavers, scored the only goal of the match against the Real Monarchs SLC as Los Dos won 1-0.
“Right now, there’s just no way to know who they’ll play,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “There just isn’t the game-film on them yet but we know some of the guys who will be there and they have quality. We’re trying to find information on them; it’s just hard to get the game film. I’ve been talking to the people I know who’ve seen LA in the preseason to see what they’re about this year. But we’ve got to go in and worry about our game. We’ve been there before and been through a good preseason and we need to start the season off well.”
“I’m really excited to go – LA have a good squad,” said Switchbacks newcomer Ismaila Jome. “They’ll be good and I think it will be a quality match. I know some guys on their team and am just excited to get out there for a good game and to start the season.”
“They’re going to possess the ball well – they’re a high-energy team,” said Switchbacks midfielder Rony Argueta when asked about Saturday’s opponent. “This trip will be especially important for the new guys coming into this league or into a new conference with us out west. We are confident, we’ve had a strong preseason: I think we’ll be alright and we’ll make the adjustments we need. Hopefully we get some warm and dry weather out there – I hear it’s been raining – but we’ll do whatever is needed to play our game.”
A weekend storm in Colorado Springs forced the Switchbacks indoors to begin the week leading into the journey to the southern reaches of the Golden State. “It’s not been the best for us,” said Trittschuh. “We need to find a plowed field where we can use the space. It’s not been the best preparation but it’s more of a mental thing on how we get past it. The guys will be itching to play their first game of the season and we’re already starting to feel that.”
Following Saturday’s match, the Switchbacks will return to Colorado Springs to begin preparations for the home opener at Weidner Field against Sacramento Republic FC. The first part of the 2019 Poster Giveaway Series will greet the first 500 fans in attendance, with a fireworks display to follow the final whistle as part of a St. Paddy’s Day celebration.