After a five-goal outburst last weekend, the Switchbacks head to the Queen City on Saturday evening to face the Charlotte Independence at 5pm MT. 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 4:30pm MT.
Last Saturday evening in Edinburg, Texas the Switchbacks stormed to a 5-2 win over the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros behind goals from Thomas Amang, Michee Ngalina, Darren Yapi, and a brace from the USL Championship’s leading scorer Hadji Barry.
On Tuesday, Barry was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week for the fourth time this season. “Every week is a fresh start for him and I don’t think he cares about that stuff at all and I think that’s part of what makes him so good,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Brendan Burke when asked about Barry’s most recent inclusion on the Team of the Week.
Barry has now scored 18 times in 2021– already a Switchbacks single-season record. “I’ve seen players get hot, but nothing like this,” said Switchbacks veteran Jordan Burt. “My feeling is that he’ll keep it going through the end of the year for us.” The Switchbacks have 14 regular season matches remaining, starting with Saturday’s trip to American Legion Memorial Stadium in central Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Switchbacks played with three at the back in the aforementioned 5-2 win against RGV, with Jordan Burt and Matt Mahoney flanking Michael Edwards. “It was a really entertaining game and I think we did great – Coach told us to be super aggressive, we were, and it worked out really well in our favor,” said Jordan Burt. “I can’t really complain about our forwards scoring five goals. As a defender, you love when your guys up top score five goals. I love playing and my body is feeling better than it has and it’s icing on the cake when we get such a good three points. We’ve been on the road a lot and we’ve performed well. The fact that we’ve been able to get some good results on the road gives us confidence and it should be another good trip. Saturday needs to be more of the same with us putting our stamp on the game, trying to be aggressive in everything that we do and being the dominating force.”
“Three at the back is something we came into the season wanting to play and wanting to be able to shift into,” said Head Coach Burke. “The formation was a little forced at RGV, honestly, but we liked what we saw; it gives us the ability to open up. I think it’s great that all the forwards have a comfort level playing out wide or inside. It makes it very hard to predict who’s going to line up where.”
One of the forwards who impressed last weekend was Cameroonian Thomas Amang. Amang notched his first goal – in his first Switchbacks start – with a beautifully taken finish in the 57th minute. “It feels good to score because I’ve not played for a while so I’ve just got back on track,” said Amang. “It was good for me to get that feeling and get a goal and of course it’s good for me to learn from the players here who have more experience. It’s a pleasure for me to learn every day. This week we’re just preparing for the game in the right way – like we always do – and working on our tactics with the coaches and we’ll try to go there and try to get a result.”
“Thomas is great – obviously you’re always happy when your forward gets his first goal of the season on his first start,” said Jordan Burt. “He’s gelling with the guys, everyone likes playing with him and he’s another layer to what we have up top.”
“He [Amang] stretches the field really well, but he’s also good when he comes underneath and he can finish – he’s shown that now under the lights and that’s why we brought him here and now we have another dimension,” added Head Coach Burke.
Former Austrian international Christian Fuchs, who won a Premier League title and an FA Cup with Leicester City, has started the last two matches for the Independence after joining on loan from Charlotte FC. Up top, Jamaican striker Dane Kelly leads the Independence with seven goals, while USL veteran Irvin Parra has scored five times in 2021.
“[Independence Head Coach] Mike [Jeffries] is a very good coach in terms of possession, and they’re calm on the ball – they’re all experienced players; there are no kids in their group at all,” said Brendan Burke. “Charlotte will try to dictate the pace of the game, and we need to wrestle that away. I think we’re going to have chances and we need to be sharp in front of goal.”
The Switchbacks return to Weidner Field on August 28th to host Austin Bold FC. Gates will open at 6pm on Bucket Hat Night, with the first 600 fans receiving a Pikes Peak National Bank bucket hat. Tickets for the match against Austin are available HERE.