A crowd of 2,015 were on hand to watch the USL Colorado Springs Switchbacks take on FSV Mainz 05 last night at Switchbacks Stadium. The one-sided affair was a good opportunity for both clubs, as Mainz had an opportunity to get in a high-altitude training game as wellas expose American fans to the quick-paced, highly technical brand of Deutsche Fußball. Meanwhile the Switchbacks players got to see how their skills matched up against some of the finest players in all of Europe.
Mainz prevailed easily, 6-0, tabbing three goals in each half.
The crowd was an even mix of Switchbacks and Mainz fans, with a healthy dose of admiring neutrals and folks kitted out in various German national or Bundesliga jerseys. Rapids attacker Shkelzen Gashi was also on hand to watch the German first division squad romp over the state of Colorado's USL representative.
Three Colorado Rapids players featured in the match. Joseph Greenspan, who was released from his full-time Navy obligations at the end of May, has been on loan to the Switchbacks since June 7, and started at center back, playing about 60 minutes. Rapids forwards Dominique Badji and Conor Doyle were subbed on to begin the second half.
Greenspan played effectively, but the Switchbacks defense was under nearly constant pressure from the first blow of the whistle. It can be considered laudable that the Switchbacks defenders *only* conceded six goals. Switchbacks keeper Devala Gorrick had an excellent game, with no fewer than six saves, several of which were highlight-reel worthy.
Greenspan's height was unfortunately more of a liability than an asset against Mainz's forwards, who were almost exclusively of the short, fast, and dribble-y type. The 6'6" Greenspan is more suited to matching up against big target forwards than little dudes like Besar Halimi and Jairo Samperio both listed at 5'7", or 5'10" Yoshinori Muto. But getting beat up on by a Lilliputian attacking corp is probably good experience for the big man.
Badji had no more than a handful of touches, as the Switchbacks midfield were unable to send a ball through under pressure to the left wing. I can't honestly say I saw Conor Doyle put his foot to the soccer ball even once.
The Rapids have an official relationship with the Charlotte Independence, and have three players on extended loan with them through the 2016 season: John Berner, Caleb Calvert, and Zach Pfeffer. But the proximity of Colorado Springs and the fact of this game being a friendly, with no need for adherence to strict USL or MLS roster rules, gave the the Rapids an opportunity to get some players in their reserves some playing time.
Certainly the Switchbacks were only too happy to accept the offer to add several talented MLS players to face off against a top-notch side like Mainz in a friendly. Additionally, the Switchbacks will be in action this Saturday against the Sacramento Republic, and likely wanted to rest their own regular players for that meaningful fixture.
Mainz are in action tonight again against Liga MX side Leones Negros at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
7'- M05 - Pablo DeBlasis
40'- M05 - Gerrit Holtmann
45' - M05 - Christian Clemens
50' - M05 - Jairo Samperio
55' - M05 - Besar Halimi
90' - M05 - Jhon Cordoba
Here's some photos:
A lovely night under the Rocky Mountains at Switchbacks Stadium.
Mainz defender Daniel Brosinski finishes signing autographs.
Mainz fullback Leon Balogun. Extremely talented (also gave me an autograph. :) )