Match Day 19 will see San Antonio FC wrapping up a quick two-match home set to face the Switchbacks for the third time this season. We once again caught up with Ryan Kaufman (GingerlyTweets) from XTRASports 1300 in Colorado Springs to get his thoughts on all things Switchbacks. Due to time constraints, Ryan’s answers do not reflect Colorado’s match this past Saturday night. Here we go into another edition of the Six Pointer Preview.
- 1 – It’s only been about a month since these two teams last met. Catch us up on what has happened with Switchbacks since the draw on that waterlogged pitch!
(RK) Our pitch is in much better shape, but the Switchbacks have still struggled to score goals. They have scored just one goal in their last three matches and it came on the road in a 1-1 draw in Oklahoma City. They’ve tried every combination possible up top and it has not yielded the results they’ve been hoping for. The biggest issue is that they cannot seem to connect on passes once they get in the final third. They remain optimistic they can figure things out in that area of the game and that optimism stems from the fact that they really only need a goal on a nightly basis to get a result because they are so tough to score against.
- 2 – It definitely starts on defense with Colorado. Tied for third fewest goals allowed in the West and tied for third in the West in clean sheets. What makes the Colorado defending so tough?
It all starts in goal. Head Coach Steve Trittschuh said going into the season he felt like he had two number one goalkeepers and the results prove that. Steward Ceus has earned the right to be in net on a weekly basis. He is so athletic and long, there isn’t a shot within the frame that he can’t get to. More than that, he does a great job of organizing a strong back line anchored by offseason additions Jamal Jack and Taylor Hunter. They are seemingly never out of position and they can defend without fouling.
- 3 – Burt and Vercollone continue to lead the way in goals for Colorado but maybe more under the radar, Shane Malcolm and Josh Suggs are tops in Assists and Chances Created – what has made them so successful this season?
For Shane, it’s his pace that allows him to create. There aren’t many defenders in the USL that can keep him from getting behind. As far as Josh goes, he takes pretty much every corner kick and does a great job of getting involved offensively coming down the wing. The issue for both right now is that there isn’t someone on the other end that can put those passes away.
- 4 – The Switchbacks recently signed Nicholas Amoako, a former refugee from Ghana. Sounds like a great story – what can you tell us about him and do you expect that he might appear vs San Antonio?
Anyone that is brave enough to escape a country in order to have a chance at a better life deserves respect and admiration. The fact that he did it with 6 younger sisters in tow is even more awe-inspiring. He starred at the Kalonji Soccer Academy in Atlanta and has been training with the team for a while now while all the paperwork was getting straightened out. Head Coach Steve Trittschuh is very excited to have him in the mix on the wing. The biggest asset he possesses is his blend of size and speed. At 6’4 he is a big target on set pieces but he can still slip behind defenders to create for teammates. If the Switchbacks are looking for offense in the 2nd half on Wednesday, he might be the first man off the bench.
- 5 – These teams have played twice this year to two draws. The only thing separating the two teams have been PKs in the Open Cup match here at Toyota Field back in May. So naturally, this is heading to another draw, right?
The similarities between these two teams are striking. Both have outstanding goalkeepers and plenty of defensive support in front of them. Both teams being so stingy defensively exacerbates the problems that both teams have in scoring goals. Chances in the normal run of play come at a premium and it seems like the only way they can solve each other’s defense is to score on PKs or free kicks. To use the “Deflategate” verbiage, it is more probable than not that we see each team earn a point Wednesday.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where Colorado will finish on the table, and how will their season end?
I still believe this is a playoff team. As you mentioned, this is one of the toughest teams to score against in the league which gives them a chance to at least earn a point every time they take the pitch. While they haven’t gotten the results at home lately they would’ve liked, I feel like they have turned a corner on the road. This upcoming stretch will test my theory. 4 of their next 5 starting with San Antonio are away from Weidner Field. If they can get some results, I think that can build some momentum heading into the season’s stretch run.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – L D D L W, 2018 Home Record 5-3-2
Colorado Switchbacks – D L D L W, 2018 Road Record 2-1-6
San Antonio FC – 25 points, GF 20, GA 22, GD – 2, 10TH in USL West
Colorado Switchbacks – 28 points, GF 25, GA 20, GD +5, 8th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
It has been a bag of mixed results for SAFC against the Switchbacks. In five league meetings, San Antonio has only won once and they have lost twice. San Antonio also has the PK victory in Open Cup play earlier this season to their credit. San Antonio has never lost to Colorado at Toyota Field. In USL play San Antonio is 1-2-2 vs Colorado. All-time they are 2-2-2.
6/30/18 @ COL Draw 1-1
7/25/18 @ SA
In a match that was delayed by some nasty weather and then played in less than ideal conditions, it was a 1-1 draw for these two teams last month. Jordan Burt converted a Penalty late in the first half for Colorado’s goal. Rafa Castillo converted a second-half penalty for San Antonio FC to salvage the road point. Here are the highlights.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Colorado Switchbacks (8-4-10) at San Antonio FC (6-7-5) #SAvCOS
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
Kickoff 8:00 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPNU / ESPN+
Key to victory
What a night for San Antonio at Toyota Field this past Saturday night. It was easily their best win of the season, and arguably one of their best team performances too as they put in a season-high four goals against the best team in USL West, getting a huge 4-2 victory over Real Monarchs. No small task (Note, San Antonio did score 4 goals in Open Cup play against Midland-Odessa earlier this season).
Similarly, Colorado also had an impressive 4-2 victory over the weekend, albeit against a much weaker opponent in Tulsa Roughnecks. For both teams, it was their only win in their last 5 matches. So both teams will be feeling good about themselves, but knowing there is much more work to be done.
From the San Antonio side, there was a lot to like. It starts with Omar Gordon who almost has to be considered the offensive MVP of the season to this point. It was all his work that lead to the opening minute own goal that kick-started the night for SAFC. He would add another goal later in the match, his team-leading fourth. He only got credit for one, but he was responsible for two. Also, seeing Guzman put a rather spectacularly skilled goal in the net (hello ESPN Sportscenter Top Ten play!) was also a great sign for the second half of this season. Add in a Charlie Ward free kick goal that was a bit Beckham worthy and it was an overall amazing offensive night for San Antonio. A much welcome performance.
And then there were more lineup tweaks that paid off big dividends. Ethan Bryant. Good things happen when this kid is on the pitch. He needs to see the field more often, even if it’s not in a starting capacity. Although he seems to have no problem carrying that weight. Impressive for his age. And what a welcome sight defensively to see the return of Stephen McCarthy, his first USL action of the season. Paired with Hedrick, it was almost like “old times” on defense. The Monarchs still looked plenty capable of even more than the two they scored but knowing how good that team is, there won’t be any defensive asterisks from us. At least, not this week.
All that said, with two more games coming up this week, you can bet we’re going to see a different team for this match than what we saw on Saturday night.
It becomes a bit of a double-edged sword for SAFC fans. They just proved they can literally play with any team in USL West. It doesn’t get better than the Monarchs and San Antonio more than rose to the occasion. So on the one hand, fans could say, we can play with anybody, there’s no reason we can’t do this every week. And maybe that’s true, but until we see consistency out of this team, it’s merely a great match, no more no less. In other words….hey San Antonio FC….you need to do it again.
San Antonio has only scored multiple goals 5 times in 18 games. But they’ve won all 5. They’ve also followed every single multi-goal performance this season with at least a draw. They seem to have it in them. But can they keep putting it together and get on a roll? That’s the question.
For Colorado, their position in the final playoff spot is mighty precarious. The three closest teams chasing them ….including San Antonio FC …..all have games in hand. There’s very little room for error for the Switchbacks, and you can bet they’ll play like it on Wednesday night.
This feels like the kind of match San Antonio could easily win. Maybe this is where it all turns in their favor. But we have thought that before this year. We’re not ready to proclaim SAFC “back” just yet, not even after a match like that. But the promise is certainly evident. These two teams have already battled to two draws this season. What’s one more? We’re calling for a midweek stalemate in this one.
San Antonio FC – 1
Colorado Switchbacks – 1
SAFC “Did You Know?”
Former SAFC GK Josh Ford had 9 saves against the Switchbacks on Jun 18, 2016 – the most for a keeper in a single game on either team in this series.
Trivia Answer – Diego Garcia is the only SAFC player to wear number 79.