With the downtown stadium set to open next season, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will play their final ever match at Weidner Field on Wednesday night as they welcome the El Paso Locomotive to Southern Colorado in a match presented by Pikes Peak National Bank.
“We said to the guys today at training that Wednesday is a historic night for the Switchbacks,” said Head Coach Alan Koch. “Playing our last game in a stadium is always going to be something you’re going to remember, and you’re going to remember things in a far more positive light when you win. We’d like to go out and put in a good performance and hopefully get a good result for the fans.”
“Personally, it’s really important for me to win on Wednesday,” said Jordan Burt when asked about the significance of the final match at Weidner Field. “There’s been so many great games and so many great players that have played on that field and you always remember your last game at certain places, so I want to make it a good memory.”
“Wednesday will be something special for sure,” said Switchbacks veteran Rony Argueta. “And not just for the few of us that have been here for quite some time now, but for everyone. I go back and I say the same thing; that’s why we play the game: we love it, we have fun, and ultimately, we want to win and we want to win here at home. At this level it’s performance-based, so we’re going to look to win the game – that’s what we’re here to do.”
El Paso sit atop Group C in the USL Championship, having clinched a berth in the playoffs alongside fellow Group C members New Mexico United. On August 8th, El Paso ran away 4-2 winners against the Switchbacks at Southwest University Park in Far West Texas. Wednesday’s opponents fought out a 0-0 draw on August 22nd at Weidner Field. September 16th saw the Locomotive win 2-1 in El Paso, behind goals from former Switchback Saeed Robinson, and El Paso native Omar Salgado. El Paso will be worried about the fitness of Salgado as they head into the playoffs, after the former United States youth international was forced off in the 18th minute of the Locomotive’s 0-0 draw last Saturday evening against New Mexico United at Southwest University Park.
“El Paso are clearly a very good team,” said Burt. “They’re playing for first place in the conference so it’s going to take a lot of work and hopefully we can put in a good shift. Today is mostly about getting ready physically, and also to challenge everyone to come at this week with the right mental approach. El Paso have got a lot to play for and we’ve got our pride to play for and I think that’s a good challenge mentally for everyone to rise to.”
“They’re a really good team – especially with the ball and in possession,” said Argueta on Monday afternoon when asked about the Locomotive. “I think we can hurt them on the counter-attack, especially out here with the altitude. Toward the end the game could get stretched and we’ll look to punish them if we can. Today was mainly regen and guys that didn’t get a lot of playing time on Saturday trained a little longer, but tomorrow will be a little more tactical and more preparation for our game on Wednesday.”
El Paso are unbeaten since a 3-1 defeat in The Valley of the Sun to Phoenix Rising on August 1st. Undisputed number one goalkeeper Logan Ketterer has kept back-to-back clean sheets behind a defense that’s anchored by Haitian international center back Mechack Jérôme.
“I think on Wednesday we’ll have to put in our best performance of the season,” said Koch. “El Paso are one of, if not the top team in the entire league. They’re flying – they’ve not lost a game in their last nine, so they’re going to come in with a lot of confidence and they’ll want to win in order to win the division, so they’re going to be motivated. We’re going to be motivated too – we’re both playing for different things, but at the end of the day, we’re both playing for three points.”
The Switchbacks will conclude the 2020 USL Championship season on the road against Tulsa FC on Saturday evening at ONEOK Field.