For the first time in franchise history, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC travel to Las Vegas for USL regular season action as they face the Lights FC on Saturday night. Saturday evening saw the Switchbacks reward their home crowd with a dominant 3-0 win against Saint Louis FC at Weidner Field.
“It was a good win but I wish we could have had a game like that earlier,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “But I’m really glad we were able to stick this one out. It should have been 3-0 at halftime for us! We came out in the second half and were able to keep that level going forward and keep Saint Louis from having many chances. The guys are tired mentally and physically but they got through it. It’s a great three points for us.”
Luke Vercollone opened the scoring for the Switchbacks from the penalty spot before Saeed Robinson doubled the home side’s lead with a thundering strike just after the hour mark. Robinson’s goal was nominated for USL Goal of the Week. Vercollone added a crisp finish for the Switchbacks’ third in stoppage time after a brilliant piece of build-up play from Shane Malcolm. Vercollone was named a starter on the USL’s Team of the Week after his performance.
“I was just telling my son that I haven’t had a brace in years!” said Vercollone as he walked toward the locker room. “It was huge to win tonight because we had so many games in the last few weeks and we needed it. To be home and get the week to work before Vegas will really help us. It’s going to be a good trip.”
“It felt great – really great to get the goal,” said Saeed Robinson. “It gave me confidence in the game because I needed that goal to push me. Hopefully I can build off it and take more chances. All we need to do – and all I need to do – is put away our chances. We’re making a lot of them and playing together.”
“Saeed hit it really well,” said Trittschuh. “He’s been dangerous every game. You could see the relief after he scored – it’s great for him. Luke as well – shows up huge when we needed him. But now we’ve got to give the guys a couple days off with the stretch we’ve had. We’ve got to be sure we get them through this week in the right way. They’ve got to get their legs under them because Vegas is going to be a high-intensity game because of the way Vegas play. We’ve got to match their intensity and energy and bring our own level of focus when we get out there.”
Three straight losses have the Lights FC sitting in 13th place in the USL’s Western Conference at the time of writing. The Lights FC fell to a 7-2 mauling at the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy II on Saturday evening at the StubHub Center behind a whirlwind performance from Los Dos striker Ethan Zubak. Zubak scored four goals, with Ariel Lassiter adding a pair. Japanese midfielder Daigo Kobayashi was perhaps the lone bright spot for the Las Vegas Lights as the all-action veteran bagged both for the visitors.
A 70th minute goal from Luke Vercollone sealed all three points for the Switchbacks on May 11th at Weidner Field against the Lights FC. The Switchbacks out-shot the Lights by 16 to 9, with Las Vegas not registering a single shot on Steward Ceus’ net. Ceus again started and kept a clean sheet for the Switchbacks on Saturday in the rampant win over Saint Louis FC.
“We executed the game plan,” said Ceus. “It gives us a lot of confidence. We’re doing well with our defending and pressing and we’ll keep that going forward – we have to.”
“After the win against a team like Saint Louis we’ll be pumped to get ready for a scrappy game in Las Vegas on a small field,” said Robinson. “The atmosphere there looks intense – playing there is maybe like coming to play us here. We’re expecting a rough, hard, scrappy game. That field in Vegas really suits them because it’s small and they don’t use a lot of speed. We have to be ready.”
The Lights FC share Cashman Field with the Las Vegas 51s; the Triple-A baseball affiliate of the New York Mets. Triple digit temperatures are expected next weekend in the City of Lights, with mandatory water-breaks a must despite the 8pm kickoff.
“It’s that time of year where every team has a strong home advantage with the weather and the bigger crowds,” said Trittschuh. “We’ve got to deal with the conditions there and stay focused on what we have to do. Las Vegas are very direct and physical so we have to match that and battle with them.”
The Switchbacks return to Weidner Field on June 9th as they host the Swope Park Rangers on Star Wars Cancer Awareness Night. The first 500 fans will receive a saber giveaway, courtesy of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. Switchbacks players will be wearing Chewbacca-themed jerseys during pre-game warmups and fans will have a chance to purchase these tops with all proceeds from sales going directly to the Penrose-St. Francis Cancer Research Foundation.