It’s World Cup Night at Weidner Field this Saturday evening as the red-hot Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC welcome San Antonio FC. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a vuvuzela, courtesy of Weidner Apartment Homes.
The Switchbacks won their second match in a row last Saturday night, as Shane Malcolm thrilled the largest-ever sellout crowd at Weidner Field with a stunning, inch-perfect free kick winner in the 86th minute.
“Seeing the ball finally touching the back of the net was a huge relief,” said Malcolm on Tuesday afternoon. “For about eighty minutes I kind of felt like nobody would win – it was just one of those games. Our goal is to win all our home games in front of our fans. We just want to keep this thing going because winning feels good and these last two have been great.”
Malcolm’s late strike – a USL Goal of the Week candidate – confirmed the Guam international as the Man of the Match in a game that saw excellent individual performances across the Switchbacks’ lineup.
“Winning cures a lot of things,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “We’ve been telling the guys for a while now that we need to find ways to win – we did that on Saturday. It’s a good sign at this point in our season. Our rhythm has really improved with Karsten [Hanlin] in the team. It allows Saeed [Robinson] and AJ [Ajeakwa] to come off the bench if that’s how we decide to line up. And Jordan Schweitzer, he’s been really good for us – he’s done well all season long and he takes a lot of pressure off the back four. He makes the middle go. Karsten has really helped our backline too. He keeps the ball moving and has a good relationship with Schweitzer and bringing him in has helped. Our whole back four is playing well. Taylor [Hunter] had a good game at right back too and that’s an important position for us.”
“We were solid but of course there’s always room for improvement,” said Switchbacks goalkeeper Steward Ceus. The Haitian international kept his fourth clean sheet of the season on Saturday against Fresno behind a team-wide defensive display. “Our back six – I call it that with Schweitz there too – is starting to find our game. These two wins in a row have been huge for us, for our team morale and our belief. The guys believe and it gives us great momentum going forward into these two at home.”
The Switchbacks will have their shortest turnaround of the season after Saturday’s match with a return to Weidner Field next Tuesday evening for the visit of Orange County SC. “We’ll address Orange County after Saturday, but we need everybody,” stressed Trittschuh. “Luke [Vercollone] is probably out and Kimmy [Tae-Seong Kim] will miss out too, but we’ve just got to keep on moving. San Antonio are a team that has been changing their shape recently and they have good players. Omar Gordon is a really solid player. [José] Escalante is good too. Charlie Ward has come into the middle of their midfield and helped them out. Defensively they’re good…we just don’t know how they’ll line up with all the ways [Head Coach] Darren [Powell] has been changing their shape. As for ourselves on Saturday: there’s no reason to change things. In the first half against Fresno we were too slow and we can’t start that way this weekend. We need to keep improving and working on the little parts of our game.”
Jamaican midfielder Owayne ‘Omar’ Gordon leads SAFC in goals with 3, with striker Alex Bruce and midfielder Mikey Lopez tied on two goals apiece.
San Antonio FC will arrive in Colorado Springs just outside the playoff cut-line in the USL’s Western Conference, while the Switchbacks currently occupy the 8th and final playoff position. SAFC have played three fewer matches than the Switchbacks and will host Steve Trittschuh’s men on July 25th at Toyota Field in the Alamo City. SAFC lost their last USL match 2-0 in bruising fashion on Saturday evening against Reno 1868 FC at Toyota Field.
The heatwave that has hit Colorado Springs is tipped to cool ever so slightly by Saturday evening, with the Switchbacks enduring near triple-digit on-field temperatures at practice to start their week of preparation. A day of rest, rehydration, and recovery is slated for Wednesday, with midday training sessions set for Thursday and Friday ahead of SAFC’s arrival.
“We’ve got to make teams chase us, especially at home with the conditions and our crowd and now the heat,” said Trittschuh after the leading the Switchbacks through a physical session in the blazing afternoon sun on Tuesday. “That’s why we’re training now. We’re training a little bit later to try and get used to the heat and make sure it’s a little warmer outside for us. We’ve also got to be ready to deal with the conditions on our trip to OKC. Whatever it’s like this weekend we’ll be ready to use it to our advantage.”
A fireworks display will follow the July 3rd visit of Orange County SC as part of an Independence Day Fireworks Extravaganza at Weidner Field. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will also receive a Switchbacks scarf, courtesy of Oakwood Homes.