Wednesday marks the final match of the 2018 season for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC as they travel to the great Pacific Northwest to take on the Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma.
The Sounders 2 have endured a miserable campaign and have not won since defeating San Antonio FC 3-2 on August 11th. S2 are in the midst of a run that sees Head Coach John Hutchinson’s team play five matches in the span of just two weeks. Following Wednesday’s match with the Switchbacks, S2 will finish their season at ONEOK Field against the Tulsa Roughnecks on Saturday evening.
Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders are faring far better than their USL affiliate in 2018, with Brian Schmetzer’s team currently locked into 5th place in the MLS’s Western Conference. On Monday evening the Sounders will host the Houston Dynamo at CenturyLink Field in downtown Seattle, and will not play again in the MLS until a Wednesday night matchup with Orlando City SC in Florida on October 17th.
“Our plan will depend on if S2 play their younger guys or not,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh during a near-freezing training session at Weidner Field on Monday morning. “S2 have guys who work hard, bring a ton of energy, and are hungry, and they also have the next-level quality guys from the MLS first-team when they need them. We have to be prepared to play against two different groups. Our guys – and I know we want this – want to go out and end the season well and play our best and cut-out the mistakes we had in Fresno that cost us the game. We’re going to still approach this game in Seattle as we have every other. We’ll do all we can to go out and win the game. S2 have been playing and rotating two different teams with their group of young guys and their first-team. They might be on that rotation this week because of their schedule – we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Last Friday saw the Switchbacks upended 3-0 at Chukchansi Park in Fresno despite out-possessing the Fresno FC Foxes. Lineup changes could abound for the Switchbacks on Wednesday, although Trittschuh was tight-lipped when asked about his squad selection for 2018’s final match.
“The guys have been training hard all season and we’ll keep that going today before we go to Seattle tomorrow,” said Trittschuh. “We’ll choose a group soon that will go to Seattle but we’ll pick the best team we can. There are guys I want to keep from this team and some of those ones who have done well this season may move on – that’s just how it goes. We have to do what we can with what we have so we can keep our best players here. After Wednesday we’ll sit down with the guys and make a plan for the offseason. The guys here have had the whole season to show what they can do at this level and in the end, I need to get some more quality in here. We were not consistent enough this season, but we were competitive in every game. We’ve got to get results next season and win a championship. We need more top-level guys in here to do that and we’ll look for that during the offseason.”
“These small victories, even though we’re out of the playoffs, are good for us and for the organization,” said Shane Malcolm. “We’re going to go out there and play for contracts and for our pride as a team. We know we’re a playoff-caliber team, but we haven’t always shown that – but we’ll get a chance this week to end our season well.”
S2 and the Switchbacks played out a 0-0 draw at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs on April 21st, with both teams going down to 10-men in the span of three minutes in the second-half. On Saturday evening the Sounders 2 lost 2-1 at Champions Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park on the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in California, with S2’s goal coming through midfielder Azriel Gonzalez on the hour-mark. David Estrada, himself a second-half substitute against OC on Saturday, leads the Sounders 2 in goals with 10 in 2018. Australian midfielder Jesse Daley tops S2’s assist chart, just one in front of the aforementioned Azriel Gonzalez.
“On a personal level, it’s good to see my family in Seattle, but we’re there to do a job as a team,” said midfielder Jordan Schweitzer. “Let’s end this year on a high note.”
“You always want to go into the offseason a winner,” said Jordan Burt. “We’re all competing for different things but I expect a good effort from everyone and a good game against whichever team shows up for Seattle.”