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Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 2017 USL season preview

With a new look, the Switchbacks aim to improve on 2015-2016 success.

Chris James celebrates a goal in preseason action for the Switchbacks
Photos Courtesy Isaiah J. Downing/Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Year Founded: 2015

Affiliation: None

2016 record, place in Conference standings: 14-7-9 (49 points) 3rd in Western Conference

2016 playoffs: Lost in Conference Quarterfinals to Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (1-2)

Key additions: Chris James (M), Pascal Eboussi (D), Masta Kacher (M)

Key departures: Devala Gorrick (G), Marty Maybin (F), Mike Seth (F), Saeed Robinson (F), Christian Ibeagha (D), Miguel Gonzalez (F)

Projected/ideal starting XI (formation): (4-3-3) Dan Jackson, Jordan Burt, Pascal Eboussi, Josh Phillips, Josh Suggs; Eddy Prugh, Rony Argueta, Chris James, Masta Kacher, Shane Malcolm, Kevaughn Frater

After a disappointing early exit in the playoffs, change was the theme of the 2016 offseason. For the second year in a row, the Switchbacks entered the final game of the season in 1st place in the Western Conference regular season, only to be defeated and settle for 3rd. The embarrassing 4-0 loss to Orange County to finish the regular season was followed by a sluggish performance for a loss to Vancouver Whitecaps in the first round of the playoffs.

The offseason saw the team purge three of it’s four top scorers in Seth, Maybin, and Gonzalez, as well as 2017 Goalkeeper of the Year Finalist and Second Team All-USL honoree Devala Gorrick. Fans spent the offseason curbing anxiety attacks as the team lineup that had been consistent since the inaugural season was slowly dismantled.

That anxiety turned to excitement however as the preseason wrapped up with the team going undefeated. While the competition was local colleges, and the always competitive Boulder-based team Harpo’s FC, the new additions were able to consistently perform and improve with each game. Newcomers Chris James, Masta Kacher, Eddy Prugh, and Pascal Eboussi all had impressive performances in the preseason, and the fans can look forward to a competitive team again challenging for top of the table in the West.

Why you should watch the Switchbacks in 2017:

The first two seasons of the Switchbacks saw a scrappy team of over-achievers outperform expectations. 2015 saw an explosive team that could outscore anyone, but a porous defense that couldn't keep leads. 2016 was a team dominate defensively, but unable to produce goals consistently. With three of the starting four back line returning in 2017 and a revamped midfield and offense, this year looks to build on what made the team a consistent playoff contender.

Three players to watch:

Rony Argueta: The popular midfielder, and 2016 Back Chat Young Player of the Year spent some time in the offseason with Mexican second division team Celaya F.C. before returning to the Switchbacks for 2017. His hard work and leadership on and off the field has earned him the Captain’s armband for the year. “It’s a huge honor for me,” said Argueta in a statement to Roland Vargish. “It pushes me even harder and I know I’ve got to step up. But it’s about our first game now. The team is feeling good and we are definitely going to have to be a lot better against Tulsa because we know that’s a different kind of competition for us.”

Pascal Eboussi: When defender Christian Ibeagha left the team, he left a huge hole in the back line. Looking to fill that gap will be 19-year-old Cameroonian Pascal Eboussi. At 6’4” and 200 pounds, he has been a physical presence in the preseason, and could have a breakout season for the Switchbacks, and contend for USL young player honors this season.

Chris James: Another new addition to the team, James comes to Colorado Springs by way of New Zealand, where he earned 21 caps on the senior National Team. His skill and experience at an international level has shown through in the preseason, where he dominated. His veteran experience can raise the level of play in his teammates, and be troublesome for opponents in the Western Conference.

The 2017 season will be a success if...

If the Switchbacks can continue their home field dominance in the newly renamed Weidner Field, and steal some points on the road, they can again be in the mix for top of the table. Adding players with senior international level experience can finally push the team over the hump, and have the team looking to bring some hardware home to the Pikes Peak Region.

Read more:

VARGISH'S VIEW: SWITCHBACKS SET TO OPEN 2017 USL CAMPAIGN AT TULSA
2017 USL Preview: Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
Switchbacks Remain Undefeated in Preseason