The Colorado Springs Switchbacks open their home USL scheduled this Saturday as they take on Western Conference foe, Arizona United SC. This is a big match for the Switchbacks as they look to build on a massive opening weekend win and a solid opening year in 2015.
What To Watch For:
Two weeks after the season opening win in Oklahoma City, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC return home to open up Fortress Sand Creek for the season on Saturday against Arizona United. While the Switchbacks will be looking to shake off any rust that may have accumulated in the extended stretch, Arizona is in the midst of a grueling 5 game road trip to start the season. They currently sit at 1-2-0 with their lone win coming in a 2-0 victory over Seattle Sounders 2 at Starfire, with the losses at LA and Sacramento.
The offseason saw many changes in Arizona, starting with the hiring of new head coach Frank Yallop. Yallop comes into the USL as a highly decorated manager, winning 2 MLS titles with San Jose and 2 years leading the Canadian Mens National Team. Despite finishing near the bottom of the Western Conference in 2015 Yallop brought back 7 players from the 2015 squad, including keeper Carl Woszczynski, and 2015 USL All League First Team forward, Long Tan.
Keys To The Game:
1. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure: Arizona is on game 4 of a 5 game road trip to start the season, and the first at elevation. Look to see the rested Switchbacks to pressure early and test the fitness of Arizona.
2. Keep Calm: Last season, these teams met twice, including a card filled affair, that saw the Switchbacks finish the game with 9 men. The other meeting was the infamous mud game at FSC that the Switchbacks won 5-0. This years Switchback team has a year under its belt, and added veteran presence on defense, with Josh Suggs and Christian Ibeagha, which should help the team maintain its composure in what could be a chippy game.
3. Defend The Fort: Last year, Colorado Springs boasted a dominating presence at Fortress Sand Creek (officially rechristened as ‘Switchbacks Stadium' this offseason), and they will want to start their home schedule with a strong performance.
By The Numbers:
130: The number of saves AZ keeper Woszczynski recorded in 2015, a USL record. In 25 appearances, that works out to 5.2 saves a game. While making a save is always better than not making one, its never a good sign when your keeper is facing that many shots a game.
14: The number of goals scored by COS skipper Luke Vercollone, and AZ forward Long Tan. Both had career years, and both made the All USL First Team in 2015.
2723: The average attendance at Fortress Sand Creek in 2015. With a season under its belt, the club hopes to see a greater presence this year. With increased media coverage compared to the inaugural season, and expansion of the seating in the stadium, its not unreasonable to expect to see that average go up when the season is finished.
Referee: Leland Grant
Assistant Referees: Jacob Herold and Justin Fillmore
Fourth Official: Lauren Parliament
How to Watch:
Match Date/Time: Saturday, April 9th, 1:30pm MDT
Venue: Switchbacks Stadium--Colorado Springs, Colorado
Supporters Event: The Trailheads will be hosting a tailgate in the southeast parking lot @ 10am
Weather at Kick-off: 69 degrees with partly cloud skies and a 20% chance of rain