Scheduling in the USL must be rough. You have to not only try to make road trips financially viable for many teams, but often must juggle availability in multipurpose stadiums. Some teams benefit from it, and some teams, such as Arizona United get the short end of the stick. Five game road trips can be a tiring prospect for any team. Five games to start the season can be crippling.
Arizona saw their fourth game of the road trip in the rarified air of Colorado Springs, against the Switchbacks FC. Goals have been in short order this season, with their only two coming in a 2-0 victory over Sounders 2. Unfortunately, the back of the net remained elusive, and they fell to the Switchbacks, 2-0.
The Switchbacks, coming off a 2 week rest and playing their first home game of the season, pressured from the opening whistle. True to his word, Coach Trittschuh kept his lineup the same as it was against Oklahoma City. Forward Marty Maybin made his second start of the year, and justified the coach’s trust by opening up the scoring off a header from Rony Argueta. Maybin was busy all game, but might regret some missed opportunities that could have further extended the score.
Maybin’s physical play frustrated the back line of Arizona, and it seemed clear that the Switchbacks looked to send a message all game with their physical and aggressive play. Arizona keeper Carl Woszczynski was underfire all game, facing 15 shots and forced into 4 saves. His counterpart, Devala Gorrick was in firm control of his box the entire game, often aggressively venturing far out to interrupt play and not allowing any space for Arizona to operate.
The win makes Colorado Springs 2-0-0 to start the season, and drops Arizona to 1-3-0.
The Good: The Switchbacks again pressed from beginning to end, and even after extending their lead by 2, never let Arizona back into the game. For a team that would give away goals late in 2015, this is a great sign. The veteran back 4 Josh Suggs, Christian Ibeagha, Josh Phillips, and Jordan Burt and keeper Devala Gorrick are gelling well to start the season. Aside from the unfortunate own goal in OKC, they have yet to allow an opposing player to score.
The Bad: Yellow cards. 6 Switchbacks were issued yellow cards on Saturday. While some where questionable, the Switchbacks need to be a bit more composed, as the season progresses and the cards began to accumulate. USL officials are a mixed bag of consistency, and while some wouldn’t card Josh Phillips for dissent off the ball, others would have had no problem dishing a red for Rony Argueta’s deliberate handball in the second half.
The Ugly: Im gonna catch grief for saying this, and it pains me to say it, but… the home crowd. At 2200 announced attendance, it would have been one of the smallest crowds last season. As a community, we clearly have the stakes laid out for us. With the Sky Sox tucking tail and leaving town, there is only one professional franchise dedicated to the town, and they just happen to be one of the best teams in their league. Im not sure if the team is using different metrics to count attendance this year (My guesstimation prior to the announcement was around 3000, based on how the crowd filled the stadium compared to last year), but we can do much better. The Trailheads were in full voice, and filled out Basecamp nicely. Now we just need to get more butts in the rest of the seats. We gotta get FSC packed! Got a friend? Bring them! You don’t need to be a soccer expert to know that the good guys wear black, and we want to score more points than the other team.
It Was Over When: Mike Seth chased the ball into the net in the 62nd minute. At that point you could feel the pressure released, and Arizona accept the inevitable loss. The only thing in doubt after that was whether Gorrick got his clean sheet, and if the Switchbacks could score more.
What’s Next: The Switchbacks head northwest to take on Seattle Sounders 2 on Sunday, April 17 at 8pm MT. The last time these teams met was at FSC in the first round of the playoffs in 2015. Seattle is currently in the basement of the Western Conference, with no points, and no goals for the season. Colorado Springs will want to keep that streak in effect, and frustrate the faithful at Starfire.