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Switchbacks Face Make-Or-Break Clash with S2

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 09/14/17, 6:03PM EDT

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Colorado Springs seeks first win at Starfire Stadium in playoff six-pointer


Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The current USL Western Conference standings may show Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in the eighth and final playoff position, but the side knows Saturday’s visit to 11th-place Seattle Sounders FC 2 is going to be a make-or-break game for both teams.

While the Switchbacks are currently in the playoff positions, their maximum achievable point-total of 49 after Saturday’s defeat to Phoenix Rising FC has the club mathematically behind both Orange County SC and OKC Energy FC. As such, three points from their visit to Starfire Stadium is almost a must if the side is to remain close in the race for the USL Cup Playoffs.

“We haven’t won in a while,” Switchbacks forward Shane Malcolm told SwitchbacksFC.com’s Roland Vargish. “This weekend we are really looking for a boost and to get this monkey off our back. If we can win one then we can get a string together. We need to work together and get the first win in a while and then we can take that momentum forward into the rest of the season and towards the playoffs.”

Colorado Springs’ defeat to Rising FC left its winless streak at four games, with the club’s last victory coming on August 8 against Orange County. Wednesday night’s game between OCSC and San Antonio FC will likely get plenty of viewership from the Switchbacks and their fans, all of whom will be hoping SAFC can take victory on the road to keep Orange County behind Colorado Springs in the Western Standings.

Regardless of that result, though, the Switchbacks will need to solve the challenge S2 poses. Colorado Springs has lost all three of its prior visits to Starfire Stadium, with Saturday’s game its first trip to the venue after the teams split a pair of games at Weidner Field this season.

“We know their style – they’re tough to beat at home,” Switchbacks Assistant Coach Wolde Harris told Vargish. “We have to apply ourselves from the beginning of the game. Seattle have good players all around and they’re pretty organized. We have to be quick on the break and in transition and of course stay compact defensively and make It difficult for them to break us down. We must finish our chances.”


Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Seattle is in even greater need of a victory if it’s to maintain hope of a second playoff berth in three seasons. Sitting four points behind the Switchbacks, S2 is coming off a 1-1 draw with Reno 1868 FC, a continuation of the side’s up-and-down form that has seen it go 2-2-1 in its last five games.

After taking an early lead against one of the form teams in the Western Conference, S2 Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson was disappointed his side was unable to take its sixth home win of the season and move closer to the playoff positions.

“Even though it’s a tie, it felt like a loss because we know what’s at stake,” said Hendrickson on Saturday night. “Getting maximum points is what we need, and we should’ve gotten that.”

The mental lapses defensively that have cost both teams this season could be a deciding factor in Saturday’s contest. With S2 having conceded the most goals in the USL this season, and the Switchbacks looking for their first shutout since that last win on Aug. 8, mental sharpness is going to be key.

“It’s important to cut out the mental lapses that we’ve had in the last few games,” Harris told Vargish. “We need to grow from those lapses and not let them happen again. If those mental mistakes can be cut-out then we’ll be in a good position to win our final games. Saturday will be a test of our resiliency and our desire. The question is; how badly do we want to win these last games and put ourselves in a playoff position? This weekend is the first step toward that goal.”

With Colorado Springs looking to extend its run of reaching the playoffs to three seasons, pushing the issue is going to be front and center in the Switchbacks’ strategy.

“We have to get a result,” Colorado Springs forward Masta Kacher told Vargish. “It’s a must that we press high and take risks going forward – we can’t just sit and just watch the game.”

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