H-E-B Park awaits as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC make their way to the southernmost tip of Texas to face Rio Grande Valley FC this Saturday evening. On Wednesday night, the Switchbacks fell 1-0 to San Antonio FC at Toyota Field behind a second half goal from SAFC defender Taylor Washington and a brilliant goalkeeping performance from Matt Cardone and his beard.
April 7th saw the Switchbacks defeat RGV FC 2-1 at Weidner Field behind goals from Josh Suggs and Jordan Burt. Aldo Quintanilla pulled a late, 80th minute goal back for RGV, but it was too little, too late as the Switchbacks held their lead for a vital three points.
Veteran midfielder Luke Vercollone made his return to the Switchbacks’ starting lineup on Wednesday at Toyota Field after missing time with a hamstring injury. “Honored and happy to get the start,” said Vercollone on Thursday morning in San Antonio. “I’m happy that my legs felt good physically and I’m hoping to build off it and keep it going forward.”
“It was really good for Luke to get 60 minutes,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Jordy [Burt] was fatigued from the Sacramento game, so he needed to rest because he’s been working really hard for us. We’ll have to see what changes we need to make on Saturday in RGV. Shane [Malcolm] cramped up so that’s why he came off, but hopefully he’ll be ok. We’ll meet soon as a team to see how the guys are. But we’ll need to make changes because of the fatigue.”
Ghanaian Nicholas Amoako was a bright spot for the Switchbacks as he injected fresh legs into the visitors’ lineup after replacing Malcolm in the 81st minute against SAFC. “He did some good things and got into some good positions,” said Trittschuh of Amoako. We’ve got to keep working with him because he’s just not fully 90-minute match fit yet. But we’ll get him there. He brought a really good energy that we needed.”
AJ Ajeakwa will be suspended for the trip to Edinburg on Saturday after picking up a straight red card in stoppage time against San Antonio FC and will be replaced on the Switchbacks’ travelling roster by Colorado Rapids loanee Sam Hamilton. “We have to dress sixteen – it’s the league rules that we have sixteen players, so Sam Hamilton will be coming in,” confirmed Trittschuh. “He played on Tuesday night for the Rapids against Boca Juniors, and we’re going to need him on Saturday.”
The Rapids defeated the giants from Buenos Aires on penalty kicks at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City in the inaugural Western Union Cup friendly. Hamilton started for the Rapids, as did wing back Kip Colvey who has also featured for the Switchbacks this season on-loan.
The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros have not played since a dour 0-0 draw with the Swope Park Rangers at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City last Sunday. Luckily, less than 1,000 fans were on hand to witness a match that saw RGV amass 18 shots – 7 of them on target – without finding the back of the net.
Mexican midfielder Aldo Quintanilla leads the Toros in goals with four – one strike above fellow Mexican Jesús Enríquez. The same two players lead RGV in assists, with three and two, respectively.
“RGV will be rested,” said Trittschuh. “They’re a young team with good players. They’re in every game, they compete, they’re dynamic in the attack, and they have some really good movement between Quintanilla and Enríquez. Quintanilla is good. RGV like to play where he combines with Enríquez so we have to be ready for them both. They’re a young team with nothing to lose and their players want to impress Houston [Dynamo of MLS] as well. It’s not easy to play there – it’s a big field, and it’ll be hot, so we’ve got to have a short memory. We’ve got to be good defensively and, like always, keep their strikers in front of us. We’ve got to go out and deal with the conditions and compete. We’ll have to make some changes.”
“We have to take care of our bodies and get fluid and good sleep,” said midfielder Jordan Schweitzer. “It’s our job so we’ll do what we have to in order to be ready. I’m looking forward to bouncing back on Saturday. When we come together and play for each other we can do anything in this league.”
“Saturday is a new game and a must-win,” said Vercollone. “We must focus on what we can control. We’ll have eleven fit and talented guys ready to go. There’s no reason to not win the game. RGV are a good team but we’re more worried about our game. We’re not too concerned about them – we just need to worry about ourselves and playing our best game.”
RGV FC will visit Weidner Field in Colorado Springs on September 15th on Super Hero Night. On August 4th, the Switchbacks will return to Weidner Field as they host the Oklahoma City Energy FC on Back to School Night with GE Johnson Construction Company sponsoring a Backpack Giveaway for the first 500 fans.