It’s an Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular presented by the Phil Long family of dealerships on Sunday evening as the Switchbacks host the Real Monarchs of Salt Lake City at Weidner Field. Gates open at 4pm MT, with the match to kickoff 6:30pm MT. For those unable to attend, the match will be broadcast live by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, on XTRA Sports 1300 AM and xtrasports1300.com.
On Thursday evening the Switchbacks were hard done by as they fell 2-0 in downtown Colorado Springs to Orange County SC. “It’s an emotional feeling for us right now because we had that game taken away from us,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Brendan Burke immediately following Thursday evening’s game. “The fact that we can pin-back a top team in the west that goes and parks the bus against us is a great sign on where we are and where we’re headed.”
“We created eight to ten excellent goal-scoring chances tonight, and just didn’t put them away,” continued Burke. “We’re going to have those nights and I said that to the guys. I’d be concerned if we didn’t create that many good goal-scoring chances. We did our jobs. Everyone did. All eleven guys I thought performed well, for the most part. Now this week becomes about the players managing themselves physically and turning around so that we have enough pop to punish RSL for coming out and playing because we know that we’re very good when we’re out in space. We’re looking forward to this weekend’s matchup, hopefully the weather cooperates and we see our first sellout crowd – these fans deserve wins, and we’re starting to produce them. Tonight would have been another win if it wasn’t for all the interventions from above, but the reality is that we’re on the right track.”
“It didn’t go the way we wanted [against Orange County] but I still think we outplayed them for the majority of the game – if not the whole game,” said Switchbacks captain Jimmy Ockford. “We had a lot of possession and we got some chances, we just couldn’t finish them, so honestly we just need to keep creating chances on Sunday and if we do that then we can get three points. It’s a short turnaround for Sunday, so our regeneration will be key to make sure we recover in the right way.”
The Switchbacks made changes in the center of the pitch against Orange County, with Rony Argueta impressing alongside the tireless work rate of Philip Mayaka and Andre Lewis. “This week we’re going to continue to solidify and fortify our identity,” said Switchbacks veteran Argueta. “Against Orange County we had a lot of opportunities, and in the next couple days we’ll continue to focus on ourselves, do what we do, and work on taking those chances. Last night was just the game; it’s just soccer. Sometimes they go in, other times they don’t. I think, for us, it just comes down to focus and staying hungry. Philip and Andre are both really good players, on and off the ball. They both work very hard for the team and Coach has mentioned that we have depth there in the middle, which is good because we have a lot of games coming up in a short time span, so we’ll need the fresh legs throughout the team.”
The Real Monarchs SLC last played on Wednesday evening as they defeated New Mexico United 3-2 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah behind goals from Justin Portillo, Aris Briggs, and Noah Powder. Former UCLA Bruin Milan Iloski leads the Monarchs in goals with three. The Monarchs, the USL Championship affiliate of Real Salt Lake, have so far used 35 players during the 2021 season.
“RSL are a totally different methodology to Orange County; they’re a [MLS] 2 team, they’re developing players for the first team, so they’re going to come out and actually try to play soccer, and that’s a good thing,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Burke. “But we also have to respect the quality that the Monarchs bring in guys like [Milan] Iloksi and many many others – depending on who they drop in from the first-team. We saw them turn over New Mexico [United] midweek, but the most important thing to me is our group and our identity. We will rotate. I honestly think that some of the guys performed so well tonight that I have to rotate them into our first eleven or first choice group – even on a quick turnaround – because we’re seeing so much quality from them right now. A guy like Philip Mayaka is standing out for us at this point – I love the way he’s playing. Andre Lewis is another guy who is pushing that button and that is important in the absence of Zach [Zandi]. We missed Zach tonight, but I thought Andre was good enough to help us win the game. Our midfield three tonight gives us guys that we can rely on. I don’t think I’m getting out ahead of myself and saying that we’ve announced ourselves, but now we need to follow through and punish teams. Eight to ten chances has to result in two to three goals.”
Following Sunday’s match, the Switchbacks will head south to the 505 for a matchup next Friday evening against New Mexico United at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque. Starting at 7:30pm MT, the game will be broadcast live by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, on XTRA Sports 1300 AM and xtrasports1300.com.