Orange County SC visits Weidner Field this Saturday evening as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC look for a much-needed three points. The first 500 fans through the turnstiles will receive a black and blue tote bag courtesy of The Gazette newspaper, complete with the Switchbacks logo.
Last Saturday saw the Switchbacks lose 3-1 to the Swope Park Rangers in a game that was beset by torrential thunderstorms that eventually caused a delay after 17 minutes of the first half. Swope Park nabbed three quick-fire goals almost immediately after the match restarted before second-half substitute Pascal Eboussi pulled a stoppage-time consolation goal back for the Switchbacks.
“We can’t have the lapses in concentration that we did on the weekend,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Five minutes cost us the game. I told the guys during the lightning break that the game will be won or lost right after the break…and we lost it. But I’m happy we didn’t stop playing in the second half. We went 3-5-2 in the second half and that helped us. Lapses in concentration and focus hit us in the game and we lost because of that.”
Orange County SC will arrive in Colorado Springs after a 0-0 draw last Friday night against the Switchbacks’ Rocky Mountain Rivals, the Real Monarchs SLC at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Five days earlier Orange County defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 behind goals from Zach Kobayashi and Jerry van Ewijk at Thunderbird Stadium in British Columbia.
“It’s do or die for us,” said Davy Armstrong who started at left back against the Swope Park Rangers. “They’ll [OC] come out fighting like dogs. We can’t have mental lapses like in the last game and if we cut those out we’ll come out and win on Saturday.”
Saturday’s visitors will no doubt be out for a modicum of revenge at Weidner Field after the Switchbacks defeated Orange County SC 4-0 on Tuesday, August 8th at Champions Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park in Irvine, California. A 72nd-minute finish from Kevaughn Frater supplemented first-half goals from Luke Vercollone, Shane Malcolm, and Masta Kacher.
“I expect OC to have the same mentality we do,” said Shane Malcolm. “It’s all about this weekend. Games earlier won’t be a factor on Saturday. The playoffs are everything – that’s our promotion/relegation in this league. OC have a lot of talent. I expect a good game because they have a lot on the line now – just like us.”
Dutch striker Jerry van Ewijk is joined atop Orange County’s goal-scoring charts by former Seattle Sounders FC 2 standout Irvin Parra – each player has scored seven times in 2017. Parra started the 2017 campaign as a member of S2 – even scoring against his current employers on June 24th in wild match that ended in a 4-3 victory for Orange County SC. Belgian defender Roy Meeus has already scored four goals this season, equaling his total from all of 2016.
Orange County number one goalkeeper and former Marquette University Golden Eagle standout Charlie Lyon leads OC in games played: Lyon captained his club in the aforementioned 0-0 draw on the other side of the Rocky Mountains against the Real Monarchs SLC on September 22nd. Casey Beyers started in net for OC’s 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on September 17th, while Lyon once again wore the armband just days earlier as OC fell 1-0 to red-hot San Antonio FC.
Three Western Conference matches will be contested on Wednesday evening. The Swope Park Rangers host the Los Angeles Galaxy II, Phoenix Rising FC travel to the Great Pacific Northwest to take on the Portland Timbers 2, and Sacramento Republic FC entertain the Real Monarchs SLC in California’s capital city. As of Wednesday morning prior to those kickoffs, the Switchbacks sit in 10th place in the USL’s Western Conference – five points behind the Oklahoma City Energy FC who occupy the 8th and final playoff place. Orange County SC are in 9th – just two points above the Switchbacks. A win for the Switchbacks on Saturday would move them above OC, but they’d remain just outside the playoff picture with two critical matches remaining in the regular season.
“We still have a chance,” said Head Coach Steve Trittschuh when asked about his team’s playoff prospects. “I really liked the approach of the guys today [in practice]. We’ll go at every game like we’re going to win. It’s time to see who’s got the mentality to come out and win the game on Saturday. There will be changes for this weekend. I told the guys that all three teams we play from here on out are above us and are fighting for a playoff position. Nothing will be easy from here on out. We’ll focus on what we’ve got to do which is to win the game.”
Saturday, October 7th, sees the Switchbacks host Sacramento Republic – themselves currently in 7th place – with the Switchbacks’ final regular season game taking place on October 14th at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma against the Roughnecks FC.
“This weekend is a must-win situation,” said Conner Bevans. “We had a good training session today [Tuesday] – the energy level is up. The guys are positive and we’ve got to approach every game from now on with this mentality.”
“I definitely expect a battle and a test of our character,” said Jack Jones. “Through character, we’ll respond and we’ll show that we’re not going to die. We’ll go at them and show ourselves in every game.”
Tickets for Saturday's match start at just $12 and are available here.