What To Watch For:
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC return home after their first loss of the season in Seattle. It was a bitter pill to swallow, a 0-1 defeat thanks to a PK early in the first half. The Switchbacks kept the pressure on, but could not find the net in the end. Returning home might be just the medicine they need. In the past 3 games, Coach Steve Trittschuh has started with the same lineup. It will be interesting if he decides to make some changes, especially against an opponent we don't know much about.
San Antonio FC are newcomers to the USL, and this is there first trip to Fortress Sand Creek. They come in with a record of 1-1-2, their lone win coming from their season opener at Seattle 3-0. The first two goals were scored Jamaican forward Jason Johnson.
Excitement is at a high in San Antonio for their new USL team. With the folding of NASL's Scorpions, and the ownership group consisting of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, all eyes are set on earning a place in the MLS when expansion comes around. I spoke with Alamo Soccer City blogger Kevin Collins about how the team has been received by the soccer community in San Antonio. "Soccer fans in San Antonio have definitely taken to the team", he said. "Since they are owned by the Spurs they are utilizing their robust marketing department to really advertise the team to the city. The squad has made appearances at Spurs basketball games, I've heard radio ads on our local NPR station, and many billboards around town. This is far more than what the Scorpions were able to do with their limited budget. What San Antonio fans do know are the Spurs and that they own SAFC. San Antonians LOVE the Spurs organization - so we expect SAFC to be run professionally and for it to be successful." This speaks volumes about not only soccer in San Antonio, but for the USL as well. It makes further expansion a bit more tolerable when they bring in quality ownership and franchises.
Keys To The Game:
1.) And you are...? This is the first time the teams have met, and with only 4 games under their belt, there isn't a lot of history to scout out for San Antonio. This could help the team worry less about what the opponents is doing and focus on their own play. In an interview with Roland Vargish, veteran midfielder Shin Harada alluded as much. "We don’t know exactly who they are," he said "We have to watch them and find their weak points and analyze them."
2.) Keep possession and make the most of them. In the loss to Seattle, the Switchbacks had way too many unforced turnovers, and poorly played balls. With the turf at FSC always an unknown variable, possession is even more important. Building from the back isn't always our cup of tea, but controlling the ball and keeping San Antonio chasing in the elevation will help open up scoring chances.
3.) Make them suffer. A common saying amongst athletes after playing at elevation for the first time is "I didn't think it would be so bad, but I couldn't breath!" That's exactly what the Switchbacks want San Antonio to be saying after the game. "We can and must take advantage of the altitude here," said veteran midfielder Shintaro Harada. "Teams coming in here suffer, but we train here everyday."
By The Numbers:
6570: The elevation at Switchbacks Stadium. It is the highest professional soccer pitch in the United States.
0: The goal total by Captain Luke Vercollone this season. As the leading scorer last year with 14 goals, this has turned some heads from outsiders. Its too early too be concerned however. His 14 goals last season equaled the total amount of goals he scored in the 6+ years and 157 appearances he had with Richmond Kickers, his previous team. His bread and butter last year was pouncing on rebounds and loose balls in the box, and those opportunities haven't presented them as much this season as they did last.
1-2-0: At this point last season, the team was 1-2-0 and coming off their first win in franchise history against Salt Lake City. Week 4 saw them returning home for the infamous snow game against SLC. In that snowy game, the team found its offense and scored 5 goals in a 5-2 victory.
REF: VICTOR RIVAS
AR1: Devin Wagner
AR2: Miguel Urbina-Barrios
4TH: Elias Anosov
How To Watch:
Match Date/Time: Saturday, April 23rd, 1:30pm MDT
Venue: Switchbacks Stadium, Colorado Springs, CO
Supporters Event: The Trailheads will be hosting a tailgate and Chili Cook Off at 10am
On-Line Viewing: Live stream on YouTube. Available on any device with a YouTube app (Xbox, Playstation, Apple TV, Roku, etc)
Weather at Kick-off: 71° at kickoff, partly cloudy with a 0% chance of rain.