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Switchbacks and Rapids affiliation brings excitement, anxiety to Pikes Peak region

After four years of courtship, the two teams finally come to terms that should benefit all of Colorado soccer.

The Trailheads celebrate a Switchbacks goal
The Trailheads celebrate a Switchbacks goal
Photos Courtesy Isaiah J. Downing/Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

On Tuesday at Jack Quinn’s Pub in Colorado Springs, the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC confirmed the worst-kept secret in Colorado soccer, announcing a new affiliation agreement.

For Switchbacks fans, it was a moment that’s been four years in the making. Despite being a short drive down I-25, the Rapids have affiliated with the USL’s Charlotte Independence, while the Switchbacks have remained unaffiliated and independent since their inaugural season. Since word began to spread that the affiliation was finally going to happen, Switchbacks fans have met the news with a mix of guarded optimism and a bit a trepidation. The fanbase had long been proud of their independent status, but with two consecutive seasons missing the playoffs, it became clear that a change was needed.

While the announcement was expected, one piece of news broke on Tuesday that surprised the Switchbacks fans. Along with the expected framework of loanee expectations, it was announced that Brian Crookham, Colorado Rapids Senior Director of Player Development, would also serve as Team General Manager of Switchbacks FC as part of the affiliation, taking over the responsibility from Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh.

“Steve is going to have more support now as well,” Switchbacks FC Team President Nick Ragain said in an interview with the Colorado Springs Gazette. “Steve has carried the water.” This caused concerns from Switchbacks fans of the team being run remotely from Denver, with a focus on player development over winning hardware. Coach Trittschuh tried to alleviate those concerns at the Q&A portion of the announcement, saying, “We have to win down here. We still... I still want to win. I wanna get back to the playoffs, and this affiliation is going to help us out immensely.”

Time will tell if the framework created by both teams will produce results. With the Switchbacks recently announcing a new downtown stadium scheduled to open in 2020, the club will be looking for progress on the field to usher in the next era of soccer in the Pikes Peak region.

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC will be entering their fifth year in the USL Championship division in 2019.