Reno 1868 FC visit Weidner Field this Saturday evening as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC look to solidify their position inside the top ten of the USL Championship’s Western Conference table. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a drawstring backpack, courtesy of Capelli Sport, and the second part of the Switchbacks poster series, courtesy of the Gazette newspaper.
Both of Saturday’s opponents fell to defeats last weekend, with Reno 1868 going down 3-1 in Salt Lake City to the Real Monarchs, while the Switchbacks were beaten 2-0 in the Golden State by Orange County SC.
Reno 1868 have a roster stacked full of talent, with Zach Carroll, Brent Richards, and Duke Lacroix marshalling the defense in front of two goalkeepers that have seen USL Championship time in 2019: Matt Bersano and James Marcinkowski. Former Seattle University Redhawks standouts Nathan Aune and Sergio Rivas are also on Reno’s books, with Rivas having appeared as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s loss in Utah.
Jamaican hitman Brian Brown leads Reno’s goal-chart with four, with the effervescent striker forming a deadly partnership alongside Corey Hertzog. “To stop Brian Brown we have to deny him the ball,” said Switchbacks Assistant Coach and former Jamaican international Wolde Harris. “He’s strong, athletic, and fast so we’ve got to be on our toes and know where he is at all times. But what’s most important is to deny him service. [Corey] Hertzog is a good player too. He’s mobile and he looks to get in behind and stretch the defense and it’s going to be key to stop their service and keep them out of good spaces.”
“We’re a good defensive team – we just gave two soft goals in OC,” said Shane Malcolm. “We need to limit players like Brown and we have to cut off his service and play him out of the game.”
The Switchbacks defeated Reno 1868 during preseason in the Wasatch Winter Cup 4-1 behind a brace from Ish Jome and goals from Malcolm and Mike Seth. “Preseason is preseason – I think it will be a different team and a different game,” said Seth. “They’re a good team with a lot of talent. We’ve got to show up and be ready at home. We know it’ll be tough for them to play here and we need to take advantage of being home.”
“We had an opportunity to play them in preseason, which is always good,” said Jordan Schweitzer. “Reno have a better understanding of each other now, and we have the same thing. It’s difficult for teams to come into Weidner Field and get a win. I expect Reno to come in and battle and we understand that it will be a fight.”
Former Penn State Nittany Lions star Hertzog, who leads Reno with two assists in 2019, missed an early penalty kick against the Real Monarchs last Saturday, and was removed at halftime as part of a double substitution by Head Coach Ian Russell. The changes brought Reno an 81st minute goal from one of the aforementioned subs, Aidan Apodaca.
“We know that Brown has got speed and strength and we have got to watch him,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “He has an eye for goal, so we’ve got to be aware of him – but they’ve got other dangerous players. Reno are a good, solid team and they play their system well under Ian [Russell] who is a good coach. We have got to have better intensity than we did in OC and we’ve got to play better. The speed of our play has to be quicker to break things down and of course we can’t give up re-start goals like we did in OC.”
“I’m sure Reno will come in flying so we need to be ready on Saturday,” said midfielder Alex Molano early Wednesday morning – his birthday. “It feels good to be back at home and we’ll need to take advantage of that and win our games at home.”
The Switchbacks will visit Greater Nevada Field in The Biggest Little City in the World on July 27th. A trip to the Rose City to face the Portland Timbers 2 awaits the Switchbacks on April 20th following Saturday’s match against Reno 1868. A first midweek game of 2019 will follow, with the Switchbacks making their way to ONEOK Field for an April 24th showdown with the table-topping Tulsa Roughnecks FC. The Switchbacks will return to Weidner Field on May 4th as they host El Paso Locomotive FC on $3 margarita night, with the first 500 fans receiving a bucket hat courtesy of Pikes Peak National Bank.