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Vargish's View: Switchbacks Look To Return To Form At Home

By Roland Vargish, 05/26/18, 8:00AM MDT

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“We’re going to go out and play our game.  Saint Louis will be tough, but we’ll beat them.”  - Luke Vercollone.

USL action is back at Weidner Field this Saturday evening as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC host Saint Louis FC.  The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a Ziggy Bobblehead, courtesy of Fox 21 News.

Both of Saturday’s opponents were knocked out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in the third round in midweek. The Switchbacks were desperately unlucky to lose on Wednesday night at Toyota Field on penalty kicks to San Antonio FC.  Saint Louis FC were beaten 1-0 by Louisville City FC at Lynn Stadium in Kentucky.

In USL play the Switchbacks sit in 7th place and a playoff spot in the Western Conference at the time of writing.  The Switchbacks and Saint Louis FC are among four teams in the USL’s Western Conference tied with 14 points, along with San Antonio FC and Reno 1868 FC.  Saint Louis FC currently occupy 9th place, as the Switchbacks hold the first tiebreaker, having won an additional match in USL play.

Kyle Greig is Saint Louis FC’s runaway leading scorer with 5 goals in 2018 USL action.  Kadeem Dacres and Lewis Hilton each have two assists for Saint Louis FC and Head Coach Anthony Pulis.  San Diego native Jake Fenlason has established himself as Saint Louis FC’s number one goalkeeper behind a defense led by Jonathan Barden, Sam Fink, Sean Reynolds, and Kyle Culbertson.  To add to their options going forward, on Monday Saint Louis FC announced the re-signing of striker Seth Rudolph.

Greig sealed all three points for Saint Louis FC on March 31st against the Switchbacks at Toyota Stadium with a 5th minute goal.  “Saint Louis are a very good team,” said Jordan Burt.  “They gave us a great game last time. I think it’ll be a good night for us – we’ve been playing well.  It’s been a long week but it’s great to be home. I’m sure we’ll have plenty of energy for tomorrow night.”

“Greig is a good player and you’ve got to battle him,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh.  “He’s a very good player off the ball and on the shoulder of the last defender. But it’s not just about Greig.  I really like [Lewis] Hilton in the middle. And Saint Louis have added guys as well, so we’re not sure how many of those guys we’ll see tomorrow night.  Just yesterday they brought in two players from Orlando City. We’ve got to play well and really keep our speed of play up. Tomorrow will be really important for us to keep moving quicker so Saint Louis can’t get their shape set up.  Saint Louis battle, they fight, and they’ll be up for it. They’re more direct, so we must make sure that we’re winning the second-balls. Getting on top of them early will be important because we can’t let them play.”

Major League Soccer’s Orlando City sent midfielder Cameron Lindley and striker Pierre da Silva to Saint Louis FC on Thursday, and both players could feature on Saturday evening at Weidner Field.  A name who will not be on show on Saturday evening is Saint Louis FC club captain Jonathan Barden. Barden was sent off in stoppage time in Saint Louis FC’s 1-1 draw with Orange County SC on May 12th.  Saint Louis FC Head Coach Anthony Pulis was also sent off and will miss tomorrow’s match at Weidner Field.

Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh confirmed that Niki Jackson and Sam Hamilton – both on loan from the Colorado Rapids - will be in contention for minutes on Saturday evening for the Switchbacks.  “The legs are tired – five games in something like 15 days has been tough. But we have Niki [Jackson] and Sam [Hamilton] ready for tomorrow. That will help because having just seventeen players has been tough and they have quality.  As always, we’ve got to make sure we stay solid defensively. If we can keep our shape and keep together defensively then it always gives us a chance for all three points. We’ve got to find that energy we’ve been playing with at home and bring it to the game.” 

Both Jackson and Hamilton trained with the Switchbacks at a scorching Weidner Field on Friday afternoon, as the Switchbacks had just a single session to prepare for the visit of Saint Louis FC after returning to Colorado on Thursday.

“It’s been a lot, but we’ll be fine,” confirmed Luke Vercollone about the short rest.  “It’s good to be back home and it will definitely help us take it to Saint Louis tomorrow night.”

“We’ll be alright physically,” said Switchbacks captain Josh Suggs.  “There’s no excuses. It’s good to be home – hopefully we can use Weidner Field as a boost.”

On June 2nd the Switchbacks will make their first trip to Las Vegas to face the Lights FC at Cashman Field.  A Star Wars lightsaber giveaway awaits the first 500 fans when the Switchbacks return to Weidner Field on June 9th to face the Swope Park Rangers on Cancer Awareness Night presented by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.

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