After a wild 2-2 draw in Arizona, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will head to the Golden State this Saturday as they look for victory against Orange County SC.
16-year-old Switchbacks debutant goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez was named the USL Championship’s Player of the Week after making numerous key saves against Phoenix Rising FC last weekend in the Valley of the Sun. Rodriguez thwarted a 79th minute penalty kick from Phoenix star Solomon Asante, before the Switchbacks tied the game with a delicious stoppage-time equalizer from Ish Jome.
“First off, I’m thankful to God, because without him nothing is possible. And thanks to the Switchbacks staff and the Rapids staff,” said Rodriguez, who was then asked about being the second youngest player to ever win the USL Championship Player of the Week award. “It’s crazy! I’ve got to keep my feet on the ground and keep working hard. I’ve been training hard and I’ll take that forward.”
“Honestly, I was just excited to be a part of that,” said Switchbacks captain Jordan Burt when he was asked about Rodriguez’s debut and PK save. “To see a kid come in and do that is what people love about sports. I was very happy for him and he deserved to play that well.” Burt had opened the scoring for the Switchbacks in Arizona after some incisive build up play from Alex Molano and Matt Hundley.
“It’s very well deserved for the performance he put in,” said Jordan Schweitzer about Rodriguez’s USL Championship Player of the Week award. “Playing against a strong side for his first pro appearance he looked right at home. He is hungry to learn and develop and to add to it he’s a fantastic young man. I’m excited to see what comes next for him.”
“We’ve seen Abraham and what he can do in training,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Saturday was a really good debut for him. Phoenix are the best team we’ve seen in the league so far – all credit has to go to the guys for staying focused and getting back into the game. It’s the defining moment of our season so far.”
“It felt great to help the team out,” added Rodriguez on Tuesday morning. “I want to thank God again. I was confident and thought I would save the penalty and it felt great after I was able to. We played really well and it was good to get a point. It’s going to be a good game at OC’s house so we have to have the same mentality and go out there and look for the win.”
Despite scoring seven goals in their opening four matches, Orange County SC are winless in the 2019 USL Championship season. Head Coach Braeden Cloutier’s team fell 2-0 last Saturday to El Paso Locomotive FC at Southwest University Park. It was the first time in 2019 OC have failed to score at least twice.
“OC have struggled early this season, but they’re a good team,” said Trittschuh. “They’ve scored goals so we’ve got to get at them. I’m not sure who they’ll play because they’ve had a lot of injuries already, so we just have to focus on what we do well and a lot of the things that helped us in Phoenix. [Christian] Duke is probably still out and [Aodhan] Quinn has also missed time for OC. OC are a good, strong team so we have to be prepared. At the beginning of the season we talked about being able to go on the road and get results and we need to keep that going. It makes the trip from DIA much more bearable when we win or get a good result on the road.”
Aodhan Quinn leads OC’s goal charts, but missed the defeat to El Paso last Saturday with Darwin Jones leading OC’s attacking line. It’s been a revolving door in net for Orange County, with Patrick McLain, Aaron Cervantes, and Carlos López all getting time between the posts in 2019.
The Switchbacks will look to build off the fight-back in Phoenix that saw Ish Jome’s team secure what could be a vital three points come the end of the season. “It felt great to score,” said Jome of his stoppage-time free kick. “Rony [Argueta] and Alex [Molano] and I work a lot after practice and free kicks are something we work on. It was a big point on the road in the toughest game we’ve had. Getting the draw shows how resilient a team we are and will help us going forward. This week we’ll work on improving how we play out from the back and keeping better possession – and work on all the things that make us better.”
“We need to do a better job keeping the ball under pressure and making sure we’re not losing it too easily,” said Trittschuh. “This week we need to work on that. To get a result at Phoenix with 6,000-plus fans there was great for us and we need to keep that going.”
Following Saturday’s match at Championship Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park on the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, the Switchbacks will return to Colorado Springs to host Reno 1868 FC on April 13th. The first 500 fans at Weidner Field will receive the second part of the Switchbacks’ poster giveaway series, courtesy of the Gazette newspaper. Capelli Sport will also be giving away 500 drawstring bags.