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Vargish’s View: 2016 SFC Season Schedule

By Roland Vargish, 01/28/16, 12:00PM MST

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Colorado Springs, CO (Thursday, January 28, 2016) – Monday’s release of the 2016 USL regular season schedule finally gives Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC fans a chance to complete their summer-of-soccer calendar.  With a catalog of games that stretches from late March until the penultimate week of September, the Switchbacks open their 2016 campaign where last season ended: Oklahoma City.

As revenge is a dish best served at a suitably chilled temperature, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks will arrive at Taft Stadium to face the OKC Energy on March 26th hoping spring is still very much in the air.  A heartbreaking loss on penalty kicks in the Conference Semi-Finals last October ended the Switchbacks’ historic inaugural season.  Two regular season games against OKC Energy in 2015 only gave the Switchbacks a solitary point.

The Oklahoma City Energy FC were also responsible for spoiling the mood of the Switchbacks’ first ever USL home match on April 4th, 2015 with a 2-1 victory in Colorado Springs.  The home faithful at Switchbacks Stadium will have to wait until August 24th for the home rematch against what should be another very strong squad from Oklahoma’s capital city.

2016’s home opener will see the Switchbacks play host to Arizona United SC at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9th.  In Arizona’s lone visit to Colorado last year the Switchbacks ran away 5-0 winners in what matched the highest scoring output of the season by Head Coach Steve Trittschuh’s men.

After a one game road-trip to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Sounders FC 2, the Switchbacks will return to Colorado for another early afternoon kickoff against one of the newcomers to the USL in San Antonio.  A return matchup on June 18th will have the Switchbacks making their first-ever trip to the Alamo City and one of the most modern stadiums in the USL, 8,000-plus capacity Toyota Field.

The Independence Day festivities enjoyed last season at Switchbacks Stadium following a 2-0 victory over the Austin Aztex on July 3rd will have to wait for another date, as the 2016 USL regular season will see the Switchbacks traveling to the Rose City to face Portland Timbers FC 2 on July 7th.   The aforementioned Aztex will not be competing in the USL this season, in part after floods devastated their stadium last year.  The team from Texas’ capital hopes to return to the USL in 2017 after finding a new arena.

There’s no doubt that the summer of 2016 will be a soccer-lovers paradise.  With the regular season lasting from spring until well into autumn, three major international soccer competitions will be sandwiched inside the Switchbacks’ campaign.

The Copa América Centenario (3 June – 26 June), essentially the 2016 Copa América, is named as such for it’s 100 year anniversary celebration of both the competition itself and CONMEBOL – the governing body covering all of international South American soccer.  The first ever Copa América to be held outside of South America, 2016 will see ten stadiums across the United States play host to the competition’s 16 countries which include both the U.S. Men’s National Team and the Mexico National Team.  With defending champions Chile joined by perennial powerhouses Brazil and Argentina, the Copa América Centenario will give American fans a truly unique opportunity to see some of the world’s best players and international squads in cities from Seattle to Orlando. USL season-ticket holders will be given an opportunity to purchase exclusive pre-sale tickets for this summer’s competition before they are available to the general public.

The 2016 UEFA European Championships in France (10 June – 10 July) will be the first to feature an expanded field of 24 teams, with an overall quality and level of play that easily rivals that of the World Cup.  Due to the tournament’s expansion, fans will finally be able to see on an international stage countries that previously struggled to qualify for such events.  Euro2016 will see the European Championship debuts of Albania, Wales (and their superstar Gareth Bale), Slovakia, Northern Ireland, and tiny Iceland who stunned the soccer world in topping their qualifying group at the expense of traditional powerhouse and 1988 champion Holland.

Sunday, June 26 will see two Round of 16 matches at Euro2016, giving Switchbacks fans a great opportunity to start their day of soccer early before heading to Switchbacks Stadium where the Switchbacks play host to their Rocky Mountain rivals, Real Monarchs of Salt Lake City.

Two home matches in just five days will be of great interest to Switchbacks fans, as the only meeting this season against Sacramento Republic FC takes place on July 16th at Switchbacks Stadium.  A thrilling 3-3 tie between Sacramento and the Switchbacks last August proved to be one of the best games of 2015.  Swope Park Rangers, the USL affiliate of MLS’ Sporting Kansas City, will follow Sacramento into Colorado for their lone match against the Switchbacks this season, on July 20th.

This summer will also see the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (August 5 – August 21) that will feature a full set of both men’s and women’s soccer.  As in previous Olympics, participating men’s soccer teams will be required to compile a roster of predominantly Under-23 players.  Three players of any age will be allowed on each team, and despite this blend of majority youth and selected experience, Olympic soccer has in the past given fans the opportunity to see such global icons as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Samuel Eto’o and Andrea Pirlo.  With stadiums across Brazil hosting games, both the men’s and women’s finals will take place in soccer’s most iconic stadium, the Maracanã.

Ahead of the longest home stand of the season, the Switchbacks will travel to Sandy, Utah on August 8th for a Monday night matchup against the Real Monarchs.  Three consecutive home matches follow, with games against Tulsa Roughnecks FC and the Oklahoma City Energy FC falling around a Sunday afternoon fixture vs. USL newcomers, the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros.

A 6:30 p.m. MT kickoff lies in wait for the Switchbacks on their sole visit to Edinburg, Texas on August 27th.  August, the hottest month on the Southern Texas / Northern Tamaulipas border, sees average highs in the Edinburg area of 97 degrees.  Following the high-altitude home game against OKC Energy, the Switchbacks will have just two days to acclimatize to the devastating Texas heat.

Left off the road-trip calendar for the Switchbacks this season are journeys to Sacramento and Tulsa, although the later may be greeted with a sigh of relief after a lopsided 3-1 defeat befell the Switchbacks in July of the 2015 regular season.

Passports will have to be updated by mid September, as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC travel north of the border for a showdown in British Columbia against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on September 11th.  Following their trip to Thunderbird Stadium, the Switchbacks return to Colorado for their final regular season game on September 17th.  With autumn set to be well under way in Colorado, the Switchbacks will square off against the Seattle Sounders FC 2 for the third time of the regular season.

A second trip of 2016 to Irvine, California will bring the curtain down on the USL regular season for the Switchbacks with a September 24th game against the Orange County Blues.  The Switchbacks will first have visited Anteater Stadium on the campus of the University of California, Irvine, on May 8th before hosting the Blues on May 27th.  The third matchup in late September should provide all the necessary fuel to not only bring the Switchbacks’ second-season in the USL to a close, but propel the team from Colorado Springs towards another playoff run.