The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC begin a six-game home stand on Saturday afternoon as they welcome New Mexico United to Weidner Field in a crucial Group C matchup.
“Having these games at home doesn’t change our preparation, but it does change our mentality,” said center back Kris Reaves. “We know we have to start getting results at home. It’s important that we have the support of the crowd. Mentally we need to lock-in and start getting things right and we need to take advantage of this home stretch.”
Uvaldo Luna was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week after his brace in the stifling West Texas heat last Saturday night as the Switchbacks fell 4-2 to El Paso Locomotive. “To be honest, it gives me a lot of confidence,” said Luna. “The goals went in, but the result didn’t come, so hopefully in the next game I can score and the team can win.”
“It was nice to see him score – he’s looked dangerous when he’s played,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Alan Koch. “He had the deflected goal against Oklahoma City, he hit the post in the first game against New Mexico, and it’s good to see him put the ball in the back of the net and get credit for it. He’s been doing some good work all season. We haven’t won at home yet and that’s clearly something we want to do. Part of playing these six games at home is getting some continuity and becoming familiar with playing and being successful here. We want to get the players to a position where they’re comfortable and confident at home and hopefully that will lead to positive outcomes in terms of getting points.”
A man-of-the-match performance from Chris Wehan masterminded a 2-1 victory for New Mexico United over the Switchbacks on July 11th at Weidner Field. Wehan’s 87th minute winner came after a stunning opener from New Mexico holding midfielder Saalih Muhammad. “Every week this year feels like a month, so it feels like several months since that game happened,” said Head Coach Koch. “New Mexico have obviously got themselves going onto an incredibly hot start, and we’ve had a little bit of a slower start than we’d like, but we know this is going to be a huge game. New Mexico will come in with confidence; they know they can play, but we also have confidence in our group. We’re going in the right direction. There are things we need to continue to push. One is putting in a 90-plus minute performance – I don’t think we’ve actually done that yet all season, and that’s the goal that we’re striving towards every week.”
“A loss is a lesson and we’re fortunate that we get to look at the game against New Mexico,” said Kris Reaves. “I think we can use looking back at that game to see what we need to improve on and find their weaknesses and our strengths and go from there and do all we can to be better this time. We’ve talked a lot about unity and being together – we still have a lot of games to play and a lot of points to play for. Everything is still in front of us. If we can get it together at the right moment we can hopefully get some good results.”
“We’ve been studying New Mexico and that’s a big factor for us to know how to attack them and knowing about that game is going to be key for us,” said Uvaldo Luna. “Being at home fills us with confidence. Getting back home and getting to play in front of our fans is good for us – knowing the fans will be supporting us counts for a lot. We have to try to slow down New Mexico’s attackers and we have to worry about ourselves. Getting results in our stadium is important and we have to make teams come here and know that they have to be worried about us.”
On Saturday night, New Mexico United suffered their first defeat of 2020 as they lost 5-2 to a rampant Phoenix Rising in the Valley of the Sun. Jamaican striker Romeo Parkes and New York native Andrew Tinari notched the goals for New Mexico United. Former Switchback Josh Suggs wore the armband for Troy Lesesne’s club against Phoenix.
“This shortened season is really an assessment tool,” said Koch. “If we were playing a 34-game season then there are different outcomes that you’re looking for. But playing such a shortened season with a relatively new group we’ve really had, shifts the focus as to what our outcomes are. We want to win every game – that’s the goal. But there are definitely different outcomes we are trying to achieve this year. The primary goal is staying healthy and the second one is showing growth as a group and as individuals. Going on these trips to Salt Lake and El Paso, you really learn about the resilience that’s required to be successful. Now that we’re at home, we need to adjust the focus a little and focus on good quality performances that will hopefully lead to positive points.”
The aforementioned Uvaldo Luna came on at halftime for the Switchbacks in El Paso on Saturday, along with Austin Dewing and Rony Argueta, and Head Coach Alan Koch confirmed that further changes will be necessary on Saturday against New Mexico United. “Every week you have to earn your spot in the starting lineup,” said Koch on Tuesday afternoon. “Having said that, with what we’re going through during Covid and some of these long bus rides that we’ve been on now a few times already, we need to use the squad. There are already players that have come in today for the first day of training this week that are not feeling 100% just based on sitting on a bus for twelve hours, and that’s part of what we’re going through. We have to adjust. We’re fighting to get through the season on and off the field. We will not use the same eleven players – I anticipate we’re going to have to rotate a few players this week and I think we’re going to have to continue to rotate players as this season goes along. We’re going to start having a lot of games in a short amount of time and we’re going to need a big squad.”
The Switchbacks will host their second consecutive match at Weidner Field on August 22nd as they host El Paso.