Fresh off felling Fresno FC, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC return to Weidner Field on Saturday evening as they host the Tacoma Defiance on Star Wars Cancer Awareness Night, presented by Penrose-St.Francis Health Services with the first 1,000 fans through the gates receiving Switchbacks laser thundersticks. The Switchbacks will also be auctioning off their R2-D2 warmup jerseys, with all proceeds going to the Penrose-St. Francis Health Foundation.
The Tacoma Defiance – previously known as the Seattle Sounders 2 – have endured a wretched start to the 2019 USL Championship campaign, as the team from T-Town have already lost 10 matches. “The first team [Seattle Sounders of MLS] have a lot of guys missing right now, so we won’t be sure exactly who will play against us on Saturday,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “They’re a good team even though their record doesn’t show it. They play a good style so we have to be on our game. It wasn’t our best possible game against Fresno, but the players dug really deep – especially at the end – and all the credit has to go to them.”
Switchbacks captain Jordan Burt scored the winning goal against Fresno FC last Saturday, after Ish Jome had delivered a delightful corner kick. “It was definitely a bit of a relief to get the goal,” said Burt early Tuesday morning. “It was good to score – especially going into halftime – and give the team a boost. Going up right before the half is very important. I’m just proud of the team’s overall performance.”
Shane Malcolm will not be available for Saturday’s match at Weidner Field, as the winger will be representing the Guam National Team in a two-legged World Cup Qualifier against Bhutan. On Thursday, Guam will visit Changlimithang Stadium in Tempu, Bhutan before hosting the Dragon Boys next Monday evening (11:15pm Mountain Time) at the Guam National Football Stadium in Hagåtña in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
“Shane is a big loss because he’s one of our leading scorers and he’s playing every minute of every game for us,” said Saeed Robinson. “It’s going to be a different dynamic and it will be difficult without him but we know we’ve all got to make up for it. It meant a lot to the team to finally get a win in the league but if we can’t continue the winning ways then it doesn’t really mean anything so we’ve got to continue this weekend.”
“Obviously, Shane is a big part of this team,” said Burt. “Someone will have to step in and step up – we’ve got a lot of guys who are willing and able to do that. This week we need to focus on what we do best and use the win on Saturday as momentum. Tacoma have a talented group. Every game in this league is a dogfight so we have to be ready to play and ready for a team that will be looking for a win.”
“It’s good for Ish to get the Team of the Week and it’s also good for us that we have Saeed back now,” said Trittschuh. “Ish deserved it. Saeed being back helps give us a different look. César [Romero] will be back with us on Friday and with Shane being gone, guys will have to step up and take their chance and we’ll see who is ready to do that at the weekend.”
“It’s nice to be recognized and be on the Team of the Week, but the most important thing is for the team to get the win – that’s really all that matters,” said Jome.
Former LA Galaxy II striker Justin Dhillon leads Tacoma in goals with five, and scored the Defiance’s lone goal last Saturday as his team fell at home to El Paso Locomotive FC 2-1 at Cheney Stadium. Former Indiana Hoosier goalkeeper Trey Muse is the Defiance’s leader in minutes at the GK position, although Bryan Meredith has started both of Tacoma’s last two matches in the USL Championship.
“The win against Fresno was huge for our team morale,” said Rony Argueta. “We’ve been really unlucky in the last few weeks and that’s hurt our results. Moving forward we’ll look to build from last weekend and keep our positive vibe going. All of last week we were very positive and we kept our attitude up and that helped us a lot to get the win and we’ll look to do that again today and into the Tacoma game.”
When asked about the uptick in positive attitude for the Switchbacks over the last week, Head Coach Trittschuh responded, “They’re character – the character of these players is what’s kept us fighting. We’re trying to keep it positive around here. There’s been a lot of negativity around but it’s come from people who don’t know our club and don’t know these players. We’ve been trying to keep all the negativity out and that’s what we did before Fresno.”
Following Saturday’s match, the Switchbacks will travel to Edinburg, Texas to face the RGV FC Toros on June 15th. June 22nd will see the Switchbacks host the SLC Monarchs with summer fireworks and a t-shirt giveaway, sponsored by Colorado Technical University. The Switchbacks will head to Cheney Stadium in the Great Pacific Northwest to face the Defiance on October 12th.