Winners of four of their last five games, the Switchbacks head south into the Land of Enchantment to face New Mexico United on Friday evening. The match will be broadcast live by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, on XTRA Sports 1300 AM and xtrasports1300.com, with coverage beginning at 7pm MT.
Sunday evening saw the Switchbacks defeat the Real Monarchs SLC 3-1 behind goals from Deshane Beckford, Michael Edwards, and the USL Championship’s top-scorer Hadji Barry. On Wednesday morning, the Switchbacks announced a two-year contract extension with Guinean striker Barry.
Goalkeeper Sean Melvin had a standout performance for the Switchbacks on Sunday against the Monarchs, which culminated in the Canadian stop-stopper superbly saving a penalty kick in the 88th minute. “It would have been hard for us to give one up there late and we would have been under a lot of pressure,” said Melvin. “We watch players and work a lot on film to get a read on guys and how they play and which way they’ll go – and I was fortunate enough to make an educated guess and get across and make the save.”
“I was telling Hadji [Barry] that if they’d have scored that PK it was going to be a tough game for us in the last four or five minutes,” said midfielder José Torres. “We had a full crowd on the Fourth of July and thank God that Sean – who was man of the match – had a big save, and after the game I gave him a big hug and told him that he saved us.”
“Sean is starting to settle in,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Brendan Burke when asked about the contribution of Melvin, who missed the start of the 2021 season through injury. “He’s getting better each week and this is the first good run of games that he’s had in a long time. I’m very happy to see him progressing the way that he is and that was a big save because it took all the air out of the game.”
New Mexico United have lost three matches in a row – a streak that started with a 3-1 loss to the Switchbacks at Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs on June 25th. The Switchbacks fell 3-1 to New Mexico United at Isotopes Park on May 21st despite going ahead in the 2nd minute through Hadji Barry.
“New Mexico are a very combative and direct team and they have quality all over the field, so if you take a second off you’re going to get burned,” said Head Coach Burke. “It’s a difficult environment to play with the field being in the state that it’s in. With the size of the crowd there’s going to be a lot of energy and combativeness. We have to be better prepared for them than we were last time. They ran a good set-piece and beat us to a spot and that can’t happen again. Putting the game on our terms is going to be really hard in their place and we respect that and we understand that, but we wouldn’t be where we are if we didn’t attempt to do that every weekend.”
Former Switchbacks captain Josh Suggs is one of five New Mexico United players who have scored twice in the 2021 season. “We know New Mexico like they know us,” said José Torres. “It’s going to be a very tough game – especially with them being at home with their crowd – but I think we know how to handle it. We have an experienced team and we’re just going to keep doing what we know how to do. We’ve been playing well these few games and if we can continue to play that way it will be difficult for any team to stop us. For me, I’m trying to stay as healthy as I can. I had an injury for three weeks and it was tough for me to get back and thank God for the confidence that my teammates gave me – they kept pushing me and the coaching staff was always pushing me and they trusted me. I do what I can when I’m out there and I try to help the group as much as I can – I try to go as many minutes as possible and if I can get the full 90-minutes, fine. And if not, I know I have teammates that will be pushing and are always ready to go.”
“In New Mexico we need to keep the same mentality that we’ve had,” said Sean Melvin. “We bounced back really well on Sunday and we need to keep that momentum going and have the same mentality and the same aggression in our game. We’ll focus on ourselves and what we’re doing right and try to continue that and bring it into the game on Friday.”
“We came through the game on Sunday fine,” confirmed Head Coach Burke. “It’s still a quick turnaround for us – just not as quick as the last one. The schedule is really funky this year so we have to be careful about how hard we’re training and when we’re training and how we get messages across, so we’re just spending the extra time to try to prepare the guys well and allow them to recover at the same time.”
Following Friday’s match, the Switchbacks will return home for a Fun in the Sun fixture against San Antonio FC on July 17th at noon MT. Tickets are available HERE.