2020 USL Championship action starts for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC this Saturday evening as they make their way to the Sooner State to face the Oklahoma City Energy FC at Taft Stadium. The Trailheads Supporters Group will be hosting a watch part for the match at Overtime Sports Bar and Grill at 6pm MT, complete with door prizes.
“I think we’re at that time of the season now where it’s about knowing our plan and how we’re going to play and how do we plan on stopping Oklahoma City and implementing our ideas,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Alan Koch on Tuesday morning. “The way we structured our week is that today will be fairly generic – focusing more on us – but then the next two days are going to be in and out of possession how do we play against Oklahoma City. So we’ll focus on both ourselves and the opposition too.”
“We’ve been working on a lot of general team principles, so this week will be about that final step of chemistry,” said Austin Dewing. “If we can just start clicking a little bit with individuals within our position groups that will really help fine tune that final piece that puts together a team.”
Quality abounds on Oklahoma City’s much-changed 2020 roster, while OKC veteran and facial hair authority Cody Laurendi adds key experience in-goal for the Energy. “They’ve got some big-time weapons by USL standards,” said Head Coach Alan Koch. “They’ve gone and invested in their club so there’s a lot of attacking threats. You’ve got [Jaime] Chavez, you’ve got [Frank] López – you’ve got some guys that have already scored some big goals in their careers so we’re going to have to obviously stop them and the rest of their group.”
The Switchbacks concluded their preseason on Sunday afternoon at Weidner Field with a 4-2 win over the University of Denver. “It just always feels good to score – as a striker that’s your main job; that’s what you get paid for so I think it’s going to be good moving forward to get the first one out of the way in the preseason and that’s going to help me build into the season for the first game,” said Montreal native Mamadi Camara when asked about his goal in the win against DU. “This week we’re going to touch up on set pieces and I think coach wants us to work on getting in behind a little bit more and we’re going to try to create more opportunities in the final third. The focus will be on that because we’ve worked a lot defensively, and tactically we’ve worked on certain things throughout preseason where we’ve seen a big improvement during the games so we’ll now try to create more opportunities to score. We’ve got to focus on ourselves. Some of the guys they’ve got have been in this league for a long time so you can scout them from that, but if we focus on ourselves and what we can control we’re going to be good.”
The win against DU was the second preseason win in as many days for the Switchbacks, after another newly-acquired player, Aidan Daniels, scored the only goal of the game as the Switchbacks defeated the Air Force Falcons 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Saturday’s opponents Energy traded 1-0 wins in their two matches of the 2019 USL Championship season, with the Switchbacks winning on July 20th in Colorado Springs. New-Switchback Christian Volesky started for the OKC when the Energy visited Colorado Springs during the 2018 campaign. “We’re definitely going to focus on ourselves and the number one thing we’ve talked about during this preseason is taking every game one at a time,” said Volesky. “We’ll look at them, but obviously we have a new group and we want to prove something so we’re going there not to get one point but to try to get three points. I know what it takes to play against Oklahoma City. They have a new group too, but I know the field – it’s a smaller field and it’s not the best field with the turf but it’s exciting to play in front of the fans that I once played for. Every player likes and dreams of playing against teams that you used to play for so hopefully I’ll have a good back-to-Oklahoma experience.”
“It’s a tough game to start with, going and playing at Oklahoma City,” said Head Coach Alan Koch. “They’ve obviously gone through a bit of a retooling with their group and they’ve brought in some quality big-time players in this league. We’re excited about the challenge. We know this is a project; it takes time. When you have a long-term vision you have to focus on the short-term goals, and the short-terms goals are to go on the road and get as many points as we can and we’re going to go fight tooth-and-nail to see what we can get this weekend.”
The Switchbacks will open 2020 play at Weidner Field on March 14th against San Antonio FC with the Gazette newspaper giving away cowbells to the first 500 fans as part of Fake Paddy’s Day and tickets available HERE.