With just two regular season matches remaining, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC head west for a Friday night matchup with the Real Monarchs SLC in Herriman, Utah. Friday’s match in the Beehive State will be broadcast live by the voice of the Switchbacks, Ryan Kaufman, on XTRA Sports 1300 AM and xtrasports1300.com, with coverage beginning at 6:30pm MT.
The Switchbacks currently sit in third-place in the USL Championship’s Mountain Division, and a second-place finish is needed to host a playoff game. At the time of writing, San Antonio FC are tied with the Switchbacks on 48 points, but San Antonio FC has played one fewer match. On Wednesday night, New Mexico United will host San Antonio FC at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque. The Switchbacks will end their regular season campaign on October 30th against San Antonio FC at Toyota Field in the Alamo City, in what could be a chance for the winner to secure a first-round home playoff match.
Last Saturday night saw the Switchbacks take a massive step towards the playoffs with a dramatic last-gasp win over the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros, courtesy of a 94th minute winner from Thomas Amang at a sold-out Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs. “I was so happy to play and score after coming back from injury and that three points was really important for us,” said Amang on Tuesday morning. “We will try to do everything these next two games to get second spot [in the Mountain Division] and a home playoff game.”
“That probably put us over the line,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Brendan Burke about Amang’s game-winning goal. “We’ve been very conservative with bringing Thomas back from the hamstring injury and that was a great introduction, but now we need to get him back to full-fitness before the playoffs. We were all waiting for the breakthrough that night. They [RGV FC] came here and sat back even though they needed to win, and that tells you everything about how everyone perceives us right now – which is great. We’re top three in both conferences combined in possession and in goals. We have a deadly group of players and if people don’t respect it, they’ll get hurt and they know that. But we need to be honest about our defending and making sure that we continue to try to keep clean sheets. I’d say that Seb’s [Sebastian Anderson] play on the other end [defensively] is just as important.”
Real Monarchs’ Leo Torres was named to the USL Championship Team of the Week after bagging a brace in the Monarchs’ wild 4-3 win over the Austin Bold on Saturday in Utah. The Monarchs finished the match against Austin with nine men after Bode Davis was sent off in the 84th minute, while Fernando Delgado received his marching orders just two minutes later. Both Davis and Delgado will be suspended for the match against the Switchbacks on Friday. Real Monarchs Head Coach Jámison Olave has been absent for the last two matches due to health and safety protocols regarding Covid-19.
“They’re playing with complete freedom,” said Head Coach Burke when asked about the Real Monarchs. “I’ve been on that side of it before with a really young team, and they have talent and they can hurt you in a number of different ways. There’s really nothing on the line for them and when they play with real freedom that makes them that much more dangerous.”
This season has showcased the Real Monarchs’ youth, with 13-year-old Axel Kei making his professional debut against the Switchbacks in a 0-0 draw at Zions Bank Stadium on October 8th. That match saw over half the Monarchs’ starting XI made up of players from Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake. Entering Friday’s game, the Real Monarchs sit in last place in the USL Championship’s Mountain Division and have been eliminated from 2021 postseason contention.
“We know exactly what we need to do [against the Monarchs] and we’re laser-focused on it,” said Head Coach Burke. “Ultimately, Friday has to be about us and our style of play and it wasn’t to my liking last time there, so if we get back to doing what we do well it shouldn’t be an issue which players they play.”
“This week we will watch video [on the Real Monarchs] and see what we can plan with the coaches and what we have to do,” said Thomas Amang. “We just want to go there and get a positive result. We will stick to the plans from the coaches and make sure we go there with the right mentality and do everything 100%.”