It’s Back to School Night at Weidner Field this Saturday evening as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC face off against the Oklahoma City Energy with GE Johnson Construction Company sponsoring a Backpack Giveaway for the first 500 fans.
In their first meeting of the 2018 USL regular season, the Switchbacks fell 1-0 to the OKC Energy FC on May 19th at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City. Geordie midfielder Callum Ross won the match for the Energy FC with an 82nd minute header from a corner kick by Welshman Jonathan Brown.
On July 7th, the Switchbacks fought back to draw 1-1 with the Energy FC at Taft Stadium. Alex Dixon opened the scoring for the home side, before Shane Malcolm deftly equalized after latching on to a defense-piercing pass from Sam Hamilton. Former Tar Heel Alex Dixon is tied for the lead on OKC’s goal charts with Christian Volesky – himself a one-time member of the University of Denver Pioneers.
“OKC are good – they’re bringing in players in their push for the playoffs,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “[Philip] Rasmussen and [Alex] Dixon are good players. So is [José] Barril. They’ve brought in Adam Jahn on loan from Columbus [Crew SC of Major League Soccer] as a target man up-top. And now they have Atiba Harris too. We have to bring our best game against this team – they’re making a push.”
In addition to Adam Jahn, the OKC Energy FC boosted their roster with the signing of New Zealand international Monty Patterson on Monday. The rangy forward has become an established striker for the All Whites, and will slot into a forward rotation for OKC that includes the aforementioned Rasmussen and Jordanian striker Jaime Siaj.
“OKC are a team with a lot of talent – they’re good,” said Switchbacks captain Josh Suggs. “We need to play well at home and use that. I feel like we can win the game. We’ve played them before and we know what they’re about, and being at home will be an advantage for us.”
“Yesterday was a very good training session,” said Trittschuh on Thursday morning. “It’s now time where we have got to win our games. I laid it out for the team with what we’ve got to do and how we have to approach each and every game and training session. We have to win. We talked as a team and I told them that I’m thinking we have to win seven of our last ten games – there’s no room to tie or lose. What we have to do is spelled out in pretty simple terms.”
Returning to Weidner Field should come as a welcome relief for the Switchbacks, who dropped two 1-0 results on the road in Texas last week. San Antonio FC were victorious by a single goal last Wednesday at Toyota Field, before the Switchbacks fell by an identical scoreline to Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday at H-E-B Park in brutal south-Texas heat.
“Once again, our execution in the final third killed us in RGV,” said Trittschuh. “There were ten clear chances that we created to score in RGV and obviously we didn’t. That can’t happen. We have to stay focused and we have to win these upcoming games.”
“We use the disappointment of the road-trip to motivate us this weekend,” said Luke Vercollone. “We need to take it one game at a time…but we need to play with a little more urgency. OKC are a good team, they’ll be tough. But we need to worry about ourselves and take advantage of being at home.”
Following Saturday’s match, the Switchbacks head back on the road for matches against the Tulsa Roughnecks FC and Phoenix Rising FC, respectively. There will be a two week break between the away match at ONEOK Field in Tulsa and the Switchbacks’ journey to The Valley of the Sun to face Phoenix Rising. “I don’t know who does the schedule,” said Trittschuh. “There’s absolutely no thought to it. But hopefully in the end, if we go on a good run, it could help, but it’s very frustrating.”
On Wednesday August 29th, the Switchbacks will return to Weidner Field as they host the Real Monarchs of Salt Lake City on 1980’s Night presented by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and Centura Health. The first 500 fans will receive a mini soccer ball and poster giveaway.
“We have to take advantage of being at our home-field on Saturday,” said Shane Malcolm. “We can level-out the series with OKC with a win and get the crucial three points we need. It’s desperation time for us to get points. It’s all must-win now – all our home games are.”