On Galactic Night promotional night at Weidner Field, the stars for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC showed up when it mattered most against rival Oklahoma City Energy.
The Western Conference rivals know each other well, and the Energy had just eliminated the Switchbacks from the US Open Cup on Wednesday night in a 2-1 battle that saw tempers flare frequently. Adding to the drama was the return of former Switchbacks fan favorite Miguel Gonzalez who, in the offseason, signed with the Energy. Considering that both teams had been showing less-than-stellar defending all season, it was expected that those in attendance would see a high scoring affair. Instead, it was a defensive struggle with both teams failing to find the net until 90+3” in the game.
The first half was dominated mainly by Oklahoma City, who controlled the ball at will in the Switchbacks defensive third, and peppered Cameroonian keeper Mouise Pouaty with 9 shots. The Switchbacks made a rare change to their lineup, putting five in the backline: Josh Suggs and Jordan Burt on the flanks, and Pascal Eboussi, Sean McFarlane, and Josh Phillips at center back. This left Captain Rony Argueta and Eddy Prugh in the mid, with Masta Kacher, Kevaughn Frater, and Colorado Rapids loanee Richie Perez forward. The change in formation and personal didn’t pan out however, and the teams went into the half knotted up at 0-0
Starting out the second half, Head Coach Steve Trittschuh subbed in Tae-Seong Kim for Eboussi, and lined the team back into its traditional 4-3-3. The change worked as the Switchbacks dominated the second half, but despite chances, could not get the ball past Energy keeper Cody Laurendi. It wasn’t until deep in stoppage time did Argueta place a strike, setup by late sub Jack Jones, into the back of the net.
Argueta, the new captain of the team, was overcome by emotion as the Weidner Field faithful erupted in celebration. He was quickly dogpiled by his teammates in what could go down as one of the biggest home victories in Switchbacks history.
"It was a good win tonight," said Head Coach Steve Trittschuh. "To win in that type of fashion is good for our confidence going forward. We still have a lot of things to work on, but we'll take the three points, especially at home."
"We struggled a bit, and they had a handful of good opportunities to put us away," said Captain Rony Argueta. "Moise came up big for us tonight coming up with some big time saves. Thankfully the team held it together to get the three points. We're hoping this lifts the team spirit and becomes a turning point for us."
The win brings the all the record between the two teams to 3-3-2 in all competitions. The Switchbacks finished Week 11 in USL play in 4th place with record of 4-4-5 (17 pts), while OKC slipped to 13th with a record of 3-5-1 (10 pts).
Oklahoma City will return to Colorado for the 4th round of the 2017 US Open Cup as they face the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on June 13th at 7pm. (Get your tickets here.) This will be the first time the USL side has faced the MLS Rapids.