After an offseason marked with league certification drama, the USL finally released the 2017 league schedule. 2017 is the biggest season yet for the Second Division league, spanning 30 weeks and 480 games.
With the release, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC finally know their 32-game slate for the season. Here are my five notable first impressions.
1.) On the road again: The Switchbacks FC open and close the season on the road against Tulsa Roughnecks, on 3/25 and 10/14. It marks the 3rd year that they open on the road. Its long been rumored that the schedule makers are hesitant about late March weather in Colorado Springs, but considering the wild swings in weather of Colorado, it doesn't make much sense to keep try to schedule around fear of bad weather. It could snow easily up through May, and in late September and early October. Here’s hoping the league tries something different next year, and give the fans a proper home opener.
2.) Return of Miguel: One of the truly disheartening departures this offseason was Switchback original Miguel Gonzalez signing with conference rivals Oklahoma City Energy FC. While it pairs him up with his brother Daniel Gonzalez, it was a gutting decision that left many Switchbacks fans disappointed. They’ll get their first chance to see Miguel in the home opener on 4/1. Yes, it may seem like an Aprils Fool joke seeing him in OKC green instead of the home black, but it is reality. Playing OKC is also no joke, as they have been a consistent contender in the Western Conference, and the Switchbacks would do well to get 3 points early against their conference foe.
3.) Saturday!: A common complaint in 2016 was the inconsistent home schedule, with games on weeknights, and Friday nights often competing with local high school sports. With Saturday games being the best attended in 2016, the league has scheduled 14 out 16 home games for Saturday. This should help tremendously with attendance, and help the Switchbacks FC to keep the “Fortress” in Fortress Sand Creek (Switchbacks Stadium).
4.) Welcome to the league: The Switchbacks get an early introduction to USL newcomers Reno 1868 FC on 4/22 at Aces Ballpark in Reno. Much has been made about the expansion team and the excited fanbase, so it will be fun to see what kind of product the put on the field. The Switchbacks FC only play them twice this year, with the other game at FSC on 5/27.
5.) Postseason push: The Switchbacks are setup nicely to end the season playing 3 of the last 4 games at home. If they are in playoff contention, this would set the table nicely for late season push up the ladder. Home games against potential playoff contenders Swope Park Rangers (2017 Western Conference Champs) and Sacramento Republic FC (2017 Western Conference top seed) will be tough, but the team is primed to pick up points and deny points to challengers in a crucial part of the season.
In all, it looks to be a fun year, with plenty of new faces on the Switchbacks FC to root for. Tickets are on sale at SwitchbacksFC.com