COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 10, 2019) – Per last year, I’ve decided against doing game reviews after every Switchbacks match, not least of all because plenty of other folks are doing exactly that and doing it well. Instead, as in previous seasons, I’ll be trying to dig a little deeper.
How is the season progressing, and what are the influences? Based on what went before, what might happen next? And most importantly of all, what are the chances that the Switchbacks will finally make it back to the fabled land of the post season? Without getting too hyperbolic, based on their opening game of 2019 their chances look pretty darn optimistic.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks Opener: Stratospheric versus LA Galaxy 2!
The Switchbacks have always tended to enjoy a good pre-season. In previous years, they’ve comfortably swept aside all scrimmage competition. This pre-season was much the same, but with the notable difference being an uptick in the level of competition. Coming out on top against USL Championship challengers Real Monarchs and Reno 1868 in the Wasatch Cup raised a few eyebrows and expectations.
The 2019 Switchbacks have seemed to gel very quickly. The return of veteran keeper Steward Ceus and a strong back line that includes newly anointed skipper Jordan Burt and man-mountain Jamal Jack has made for a miserly rear guard. The midfield triumvirate of defensive anchors Rony Argueta and Jordan Schweitzer complimented by the attacking guile of Alex Molano, look perhaps as ‘connected’ as arguably the best trio ever to grace the center of the park for the Switchbacks, the 2015 vintage of Luke Vercollone, Shintaro Harada, and a then-rookie Argueta.
Up top, though attacking options appear limited they’re at least high quality, with battering-ram Mike Seth, greyhound Saeed Robinson, and the mercurial Shane Malcolm posing opposition defenses every kind of problem.
And then, less than 24 hours before the start of the Switchbacks USL Championship season, the wheels started to come off. Colorado Rapids players expected for the opener in LA were confirmed as either still being on a treatment table or sat on a bench in Seattle.
More bad news: Team linchpin Schweitzer picked up a knock in the final training session of the week. Though he traveled with the team, Coach Trittschuh was understandably not keen to risk him in the Galaxy game and so it seemed unlikely he’d play any part in the opening match. And so, the Switchbacks traveled to Southern California with only three fit outfield players in reserve. What a way to start the season!
And then something remarkable happened. The Switchbacks pulled a Manchester United. Just as the Red Devils had done earlier in the week beating seemingly insurmountable odds versus PSG, the Switchbacks worked their own miracle in the ‘City of Angels.’ A highly convincing 4-1 road victory gave the ‘Backs their largest and only their second ever opening season win. And whilst we’ve got the history books to hand, go ahead and jot down that Shane Malcolm notched the first ever hattrick by a Switchbacks player, too.
So, what does this all mean for the season? It’s too early for predictions, but fans of the black and blue can say one thing for sure; this team has the familiar markings of successful teams of old. They have a nice blend of youth and experience. They have good team-spirit and togetherness.
And versus the Galaxy, they demonstrated plenty of grind and guile. It’s might be too early for predictions, but it’s not too early to get a little bit excited about the 2019 Colorado Springs Switchbacks.