Colorado Rapids 2 won their first preseason match of 2023 by toppling Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC 1-0 at Weidner Field on Saturday afternoon. 20-year-old midfielder Daouda Amadou scored the lone goal of the game in the 80th minute, and the young Rapids reserve squad was able to stymie multiple late pushes from the Switchbacks to maintain the result.
The game—which served as the main event for the Switchbacks’ annual Season Ticket Member kickoff party* in Colorado Springs—was Rapids 2’s third preseason warm-up of the year and their first in Colorado.
R2 manager Erik Bushey fielded an unsurprising lineup of amateurs, players on R2-specific contracts, and first team players on loan. Four amateurs from the Rapids Academy started, including right back Steve Flores and center back Daniel Garcia in defense, along with Connor Miller in the midfield and Pariss Mitchell in the attack.
Costa Rica International Daniel Chacón was also present at CB from the start, and the World Cup veteran was joined by fellow R2 signings Robinson Aguirre, Yosuke Hanya, and Marlon Vargas. Jackson Travis and Oliver Larraz, who joined R2 on loan from the first team in Florida, also got the nod in Bushey’s lineup. With usual starter Abraham Rodriguez still training with the first team, an unnamed trialist started in goal.
The young reserve squad played in a flexible 4-3-3 spearheaded by Aguirre, who acted as a Jack Price-esque central pivot and set piece maestro for the team. R2 kicked things off well less than a minute into the fixture when Hanya fielded a ball over the top down the right wing. The Japanese winger made a nice move to cut inside the box and tried to set up a goal, but the Switchbacks did well to end the chance.
Colorado Springs immediately retaliated five minutes later on a quick transition attack, and R2’s trialist keeper had to do well to make the save. The first half featured end-to-end action for the subsequent 15 minutes, but the Switchbacks produced higher quality chances during between the sides. Rapids 2’s trialist would go on to make four more stops before half-time.
R2’s goal scoring opportunities largely came through Hanya, who consistently utilized his speed on the right flank to make inroads into the Switchbacks’ final third. Colorado Springs’ outside defenders couldn’t keep up with the 24-year-old winger—the oldest player fielded by Colorado’s reserves during the match.
The Switchbacks’ high pressure game plan produced a handful of additional chances before the break, but R2’s defense held their ground through to the end of the first half. While Bushey kept his outfield group intact for the second 45, the manager did opt to bring in another trialist in goal to close out the game.
The opening half-hour of the second half proved to be a slog for both sides. R2 did well to clog up the midfield and keep the Switchbacks from piling on additional chances, but the reserves couldn’t make much out of their frequent possession on the wings.
Bushey began to tinker with his side at the hour mark, and the manager gave the club’s two newest signings their friendly debuts for the club. Brazilian striker Caique de Brito Cerqueira replaced Pariss Mitchell, while former Inter Miami II fullback Logan Batiste came on for Jackson Travis. Caique nearly found the back of the net a few minutes later thanks to a cross from Vargas, but the Switchbacks were again able to clear the danger.
R2 immediately followed Caique’s chance with a host of adjustments that saw Blake Malone and Josh Hardin replace Garcia and Miller and defense. Bushey also swapped Miller with Amadou in the midfield, and the Rapids began to show a bit more promise in the final third. Bushey made two final changes in the 78th minute, as the manager gave Vargas and Larraz a break for Keith Chavarria and Jack Sullivan.
The Switchbacks seemed caught off guard by Bushey’s adjustments, and Amadou was able to take advantage of a turnover in midfield to break the deadlock. The transition play saw the Cameroonian Youth International combine well with Hanya in an excellent counter. Amadou finished off the play by slotting the ball by Switchbacks goalkeeper Christian Herrera, and R2 buckled down to hold onto their lead.
Colorado Springs nearly equalized from a set piece immediately after Amadou’s goal, but Hardin was in the right place at the right time to clear the ball off the line. R2’s second trialist goalkeeper had to make another save shortly after Hardin’s clutch clearance, but Bushey’s side was able to maintain the shutout and victory.
Rapids 2’s Colorado-based preseason camp will continue on Sunday, March 5 against the University of Denver before challenging Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC and the Air Force Academy ahead of the MLS Next Pro regular season.
*This game was technically closed to outside media and fans without a season ticket to the Switchbacks. Burgundy Wave offers their special thanks to Alex, a dual Rapids/Switchbacks fan who put Joseph in touch with Kristen, a Switchbacks season ticket holder with an extra ticket to the game. Without their help, this coverage would not have been possible.