Wednesday night kicks off a four-day extravaganza at Weidner Field as the Switchbacks welcome New Mexico United to Colorado Springs in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Fans can purchase tickets HERE for just $5 with free parking at Weidner Field.
The Switchbacks moved into the third round of the 106th U.S. Open Cup by defeating FC Denver 1-0 at Weidner Field on Wednesday, May 15th. New Mexico United eventually overcame fellow USL Championship team Phoenix Rising FC on penalty kicks after a wild, back-and-forth match at Casino Arizona Field in the Valley of the Sun on the same evening. Burly striker Devon Sandoval scored twice for New Mexico United against Phoenix Rising. The Albuquerque native was a constant thorn in the side of the Switchbacks’ defense in New Mexico’s 3-1 win at Weidner Field in USL Championship action on May 18th.
“We expect New Mexico to be the same good team that we saw here before,” said Jordan Schweitzer on Monday morning in Colorado Springs. “We began our preparation as soon as the game finished in OKC and we’re looking forward to another game in front of our fans. Getting a result is the most important thing for us and our fans here. It’s Cup football so that adds a lot for everyone and we’ll look to progress.”
April’s USL Championship Player of the Month Kevaughn Frater notched a hat-trick in the aforementioned game in Colorado Springs, which earned the former Switchbacks striker the Week 11 USL Championship Player of the Week award. Last season’s Switchbacks captain, Josh Suggs, started for New Mexico United in Colorado Springs, but was removed just after the hour mark. Former Switchbacks midfielder Sam Hamilton did not make the squad for the match against the Switchbacks, but will no doubt be looking for his number to be called for the midweek Open Cup showdown.
Starting goalkeeper Cody Mizell was huge for New Mexico United in their shootout win over Phoenix Rising, with the former Clemson Tiger saving the deciding penalty kick from Phoenix Rising’s A.J. Cochran. New Mexico’s second-leading-goalscorer Santi Moar will be available to feature on Wednesday, after the dangerous Spanish striker – who already has 9 goals to his name in the 2019 USL Championship – was suspended for the match in Colorado Springs.
“New Mexico are playing well and with a lot of confidence,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “They’re a quality team and they’ve put together a team with the ability to compete for a championship in their first year. I’m sure Frater will play on Wednesday because he missed out in their win in Austin on Saturday.” Frater was suspended for New Mexico’s 3-1 win at Bold Stadium in Texas’ capitol city due to picking up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Switchbacks. “We’ve got to play with a big effort – the guys won’t stop playing hard and giving all they have. We just need to limit our mistakes,” added Trittschuh.
New Mexico United are flying high at the top of the USL Championship Western Conference, with Troy Lesesne’s team not tasting defeat since April 20th. Following Wednesday match, New Mexico United will not be back in USL Championship action until hosing the OKC Energy FC on June 5th at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, while the Switchbacks have just two days off before welcoming Fresno FC to Weidner Field on Saturday.
Kwasi Donsu notched the winner for the Switchbacks in the second round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup against FC Denver, with a goal in first half stoppage time. Donsu’s debut goal for the Switchbacks will look to be replicated on Wednesday after the Switchbacks dropped a hard-fought 1-0 result at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City against the Energy FC on Saturday evening.
“I think at the end of the day, Wednesday is another game where we need to perform,” said Schweitzer when asked about a changed-approach for the midweek Open Cup. “The same things keep happening to us and we haven’t been getting results in the league. But today and this week is another opportunity for us to re-focus. The task at hand is to push forward and move on and get a result on Wednesday. Our goal is to get a result; that’s what we’re here to do.”
Testy spring weather snarled the Switchbacks’ travel plans after the match in Oklahoma City, as the Switchbacks were delayed in leaving Will Rogers World Airport, only to be diverted mid-flight to Albuquerque International Sunport before they were finally able to head back to Colorado.
“We didn’t get back to Colorado Springs until at least 12:30am,” said Trittschuh on Monday. “Luckily we were able to do some stuff in OKC after our game to prepare because we had a late flight to Denver. We just played New Mexico so they’re fresh in our minds. OKC was the same old story – we played well and we contained OKC’s speed, but we just couldn’t find a goal. But other than their goal we played well. Some of our decision-making and our execution is killing us right now and we need to put it right.”
After Wednesday’s match, country music star Russell Dickerson will headline Springs Country Fest at Weidner Field on Friday evening, with tickets available HERE. The following night the Switchbacks host Fresno FC at Weidner Field in USL Championship action, with Pikes Peak Brewing Company sponsoring a free cap giveaway for the first 500 fans. Tickets can be purchased HERE for the match against Fresno FC.