The 105th Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup makes its way to Weidner Field this Wednesday evening as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC host FC Denver in the second round. $1 beer will be on offer during the first 30 minutes after gates open to all fans 21 and over.
FC Denver reached the second round after defeating Azteca FC 4-2 on May 9th in Westminster, Colorado. As a member of the USL, the Switchbacks were not tasked with playing a first round match and entered the 2018 competition in the second round.
Last season, the Switchbacks defeated Premier Development League opponents FC Tucson 2-0 in the second round of the US Open Cup at Weidner Field on May 17th behind goals from Jung-Yeong Park and Kevaughn Frater.
“It’s the first Open Cup game that I’ll be a part of so I’m really looking forward to it,” said Jordan Schweitzer. “We don’t know too much about them [FC Denver] – but we know they are a team that will give their all. We have to respect their game and be ready for a battle.”
The Switchbacks last played on Saturday night at Weidner Field as they defeated the Las Vegas Lights FC behind a strike from Luke Vercollone. “I feel like we had a good game,” said Taylor Hunter immediately following the win against the Lights FC. “We don’t know who will play on Wednesday, but we’ll make sure we’re rested and do what we need to. Being at home really helps and saves legs. Anytime we’re in front of our own fans and at our stadium we get that home presence that’s huge no matter who the game is against.”
“We needed that…we really needed that win,” said Trittschuh after defeating the Lights FC. “Defensively we did really well – they [Lights FC] didn’t have a single shot on goal. We’ve got to take that forward into Wednesday.”
Planning for FC Denver remains difficult, as their amateur status makes game footage difficult to acquire. Switchbacks Assistant Coach Wolde Harris watched FC Denver’s first round victory against Azteca FC, and will see his duties extend even further this week.
“It’s Wolde’s game – he’s the man,” said Trittschuh. “It’s a part of taking my Pro License and it’s for Wolde’s development as a coach. Wolde will prepare the team and get them ready for Wednesday and it’s all him for this game and that’s great for him and for everybody.”
“This game was a good opportunity and it’s great for me to be in charge of the game,” said Harris after running Monday’s practice in Colorado Springs. “Since I’ve been an assistant here for four years, Tritt has given me a lot of autonomy and I’m very thankful for that. I’m looking forward to Wednesday, we’ve done well in the Cup before, and we’re looking to go far this year. That’s the most important thing.”
Three matches in just nine days may signal changes in the Switchbacks’ starting XI for Wednesday’s match. “It’s a tricky game because at the end of the day we’re expected to win,” said Marty Maybin. “But it will be a great opportunity for a lot of the boys who aren’t playing to get a game and get some quality minutes, especially at home. We have to make sure we go out there and handle our business because on paper we’re supposed to go into the next round.”
“You’re playing an amateur team and it’s their biggest game of the season. They’ll work and bring energy and it’s important we bring our own energy to match them,” said Taylor Hunter. “Because we can’t get much info on them we focus more on ourselves and our style and make sure we take that into Wednesday and implement that on them.”
FC Denver’s four goal outburst in their first round win against Azteca FC gave notice that Wednesday’s visitors can have success going forward. “They have a couple good players and good movement up top,” said Harris. “They work hard on both sides of the ball. We have to make sure we keep compact and we must be fast in transition and use our speed.”
The first round victory for FC Denver was also notable due to its location, at the North Stadium in Westminster, Colorado. “If these teams are going to get into these early stages of the U.S. Open Cup there needs to be standards from U.S. Soccer for the fields where there aren’t football lines on the field,” said Trittschuh. “Soccer is at a place where we can’t have that in this country anymore. It’s got to change.”
After Wednesday’s match the Switchbacks travel east to Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City to face the OKC Energy FC on Saturday evening. Saint Louis FC will visit Weidner Field on Saturday, May 26th with Fox 21 News presenting a Ziggy Bobblehead Giveaway for the first 500 fans in attendance.