Wednesday evening is 1980’s night at Weidner Field as the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC return home to host the high-flying Real Monarchs of Salt Lake City. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive a Switchbacks poster, courtesy of Centura Orthopedics.
The Real Monarchs currently sit atop the USL’s Western Conference having already amassed seventeen wins during the 2018 regular season. On Saturday evening the Monarchs crushed the Los Angeles Galaxy II 4-0 at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah behind a brace from one time Switchbacks striker Chandler Hoffman. Hoffman, one of the most dangerous forwards in the USL, leads the Monarchs with 11 goals. The former UCLA Bruin appeared for the Switchbacks during the 2015 USL season, on-loan from the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer, and scored four goals in ten appearances for Steve Trittschuh’s side.
Colombian midfielder Sebastián Velásquez is second on the Monarchs’ goal-chart, having notched seven so far this season. Maikel Chang leads interim Head Coach Jámison Olave’s club in assists with seven, and the Cuban international scored his fourth goal of the 2018 regular season in the Monarchs’ aforementioned victory against the Galaxy II on Saturday. Another former Switchbacks star, Masta Kacher, came off the bench in the Monarchs’ win over the Galaxy II, and remains one of the more talented attacking players in the USL.
Sticking to the tradition set by their parent club, Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, the Real Monarchs SLC attempt opponent death by a thousand passes. Olave’s club have not been held scoreless since a 0-0 draw with Sacramento Republic at Papa Murphy’s Park, and have scored nineteen goals in their seven matches since the July 7th tie in California’s capital city.
“That’s the way they play – they move the ball well,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. “Chandler [Hoffman] is one that we have to be aware of. They have a winning mentality and they have a deep squad.”
“Our style should match-up well with the Monarchs because we are disruptive,” said Karsten Hanlin, himself a former member of the Real Monarchs SLC. “We have to just make sure that we keep the Monarchs in front of us and keep our lines tight and stay disciplined. I definitely hope we’ll have an advantage with being at home. We’ve got to capitalize on being here. And we need to bounce back from Phoenix – we need wins. This game is very important, and it will be very tough because they’re at the top of the table. We played well in Phoenix until the red card – that’s a positive we can take away and build around. Plus, I’m excited, as always, to play the old squad.”
Jordan Burt will be missing for the Switchbacks on Wednesday after the versatile Elkhart, Indiana native was shown a red card against Phoenix Rising after a 50/50 challenge that left Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin requiring ten stitches on his right cheek. The Switchbacks lost the match in Phoenix 4-0, with all four goals coming after the dismissal.
“I wanted to appeal the red card but it wasn’t my decision,” said Trittschuh. “It shouldn’t have been a red card and it turned the game around.”
“Looking back on it, I think about what I could have done differently and I don’t think I’d change anything,” said Burt. “I got there first and couldn’t anticipate the goalkeeper diving face-first like that. Obviously, I feel bad for the ‘keeper and truly wish him all the best.”
A quick-turnaround awaits the Switchbacks after Wednesday’s match, as they will travel to the StubHub Center in Carson, California for a Saturday night showdown with the Los Angeles Galaxy II. On September 15th, the Switchbacks will return to Weidner Field on Super Hero Night as they welcome the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. Fan Appreciation Night against Phoenix Rising FC will be the final Switchbacks regular season match of 2018 in Colorado Springs on September 22nd.
“We’re going to have to rest some guys before Saturday,” confirmed Trittschuh. “But Kip [Colvey] and Sam [Hamilton] will be available from the Rapids. I feel like we gave great effort the other night in Phoenix. 4-0 is not indicative of the game at all. Our possession at times was good but our decision making in the final third wasn’t great. We have to come out and be compact and play our game on Wednesday.”
Shane Malcolm will be missing for the Switchbacks on Wednesday as the young winger is currently in the Land of the Rising Sun representing the Guam National Team. “Shane is in Japan and that’s a loss,” said Trittschuh. “He’s been playing pretty well with a free role just in behind Toby [Uzo]. We wish we had him right now because this schedule is ridiculous. We had a week off, then three games in a week – two of them away – now we’re home before Saturday’s trip and then another week off. It’s ridiculous but we have to deal with it.”
The Switchbacks will travel to the Crossroads of the West to face Wednesday’s opponents, the Real Monarchs, at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah on Saturday, September 29th. Matches against Fresno FC at Chukchansi Park on October 5th and the Seattle Sounders FC 2 on October 10th at Cheney Stadium will bring an end to the 2018 USL regular season campaign for the Switchbacks.
“We’ve got to attack the Monarchs,” said Trittschuh. “We’ve been doing the right things but we have to finish our chances; that’s the story of the whole season. I thanked the players at the end of the game in Phoenix for their effort. Even the coaching staff of Phoenix came up to us after the game and said, ‘man; what you guys are doing, we couldn’t figure it out.’ It was important that we told the players that the 4-0 result isn’t the way the game went and they should be proud of their effort.”