Home Red Black 90 Match Day Six Pointer Preview – Open Cup edition: Colorado Switchbacks FC at San...

Six Pointer Preview – Open Cup edition: Colorado Switchbacks FC at San Antonio FC

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Welcome to another special Open Cup edition of the Six Pointer Preview – Lite version. This week we talked to Switchbacks play by play man Ryan Kaufman (@GingerlyTweets) of XTRA Sports 1300 in Colorado Springs (@xtrasports1300) to find out what is new with our Northern USL rivals.

  • 1 – (RB 90) We haven’t seen Colorado in USL play yet this year – and we won’t until June – but were matched up in Open Cup play this week. It has been an up and down season so far for the Switchbacks – take us through some of the highs and the lows of their season so far.

(RK) Head Coach Steve Trittschuh went into the offseason prioritizing defense and acquired Jamal Jack from Pittsburgh along with former Houston Dynamo property Taylor Hunter, which has turned this club into one of the toughest to score against in the USL as evidenced by the fact only Orange County has given up fewer goals in the Western Conference this season.

The most complete effort Switchbacks FC has put together was on April 14th when they picked up a 4-0 road win in Reno. They faced 18 total shots, but that reshaped back line was able to keep goalkeeper Moise Pouaty from having to work too hard. On the offensive side, they got goals from three different players including former SAFC-man AJ Ajeakwa, who the team has put a lot of faith in to be the primary scoring threat this season.


Unfortunately, the offensive side of things hasn’t matched up with the defensive side. The most telling stat about how this season has gone is that Switchbacks FC has lost five games by 1-0 scores including their latest game against Oklahoma City.

The issue is that this team is lacking creativity in the final third. The forwards and wings are not beating guys in one-on-ones right now and making life difficult on opposing goalkeepers. A strength of this team the last couple of seasons has been scoring off of corner kicks and right now they’re not getting goals off of set pieces either.

The confidence that the goals are coming has not waned though. This is a club that looks around and sees quality and talent. The fact that they’re playing so well defensively helps keep the confidence level high. If they were giving up two or three goals every week, they might feel like they have a mountain to climb, but that’s not the case.

  1. 2 – Last week was a dramatic match in the Open Cup for the Switchbacks against FC Denver that saw two PK’s and a late save to help seal the win. What stood out to you in the match last week? Also, were there any significant changes to a typical Switchbacks lineup, and if so, would you expect that to continue against a tougher opponent this week?

What stood out to me the most was just how crazy the game was. You try to give some of the younger, less experienced players some run in the Open Cup, which Switchbacks FC did by only starting only five regular starters, which leads to guys taking chances to try and make big plays that will earn them more playing time but sometimes leaves you vulnerable. Uriel Macias, who doesn’t get much time in USL play, impressed with his form which led to his first professional goal but Switchbacks FC needed to bring in some of their regular players like Luke Vercollone and Saeed Robinson in order to right the ship in the 2nd half.

This round is where things get tricky from a personnel standpoint. The competition level steps up which demands that you put a better lineup on the field. However, Switchbacks FC wants to get some things figured out in USL play and will not sacrifice an opportunity to win at week’s end by burning out their normal eleven midweek.

I believe Steve Trittschuh wants to give his younger guys like Uriel Macias, Tobenna Uzo, Verneri Valimaa, and JJ Tambe another chance. From there, I think you take the starters that didn’t start against FC Denver and put them in to make sure those who did play last week aren’t playing four matches in two weeks.

  • 3 – Former SAFC-man AJ Ajeakwa seems to be having a pretty good season so far. He’s second on the team in shots in league play and tied for the team lead in goals with two. What has his season been like, and there’s no way he’s not playing on Wednesday night, right?

As I said earlier, a lot of faith has been put in AJ to be the main goal scoring threat. He has earned that faith because he played so well last season after coming over from San Antonio. He started off pretty well, but like the rest of the team has struggled as of late. Steve Trittschuh has moved him around a bit up front to try and get him jump-started again.

I am sure he’s been lobbying the coaching staff to start and I would be surprised if he doesn’t get the chance to play against his former team. Switchbacks fans are certainly hoping that added motivation to do well against his former club gets Ajeakwa back on track and scoring goals.

  • 4 – What’s your prediction for the match?

With two teams that have the same m.o., I don’t believe you’re going to see a goal-scoring parade. This will be the type of game we’ve seen from the Switchbacks all season, real goal scoring opportunities will be at a premium on both sides, but SFC won’t be afraid to pull the trigger. One goal might be all we see, so why not let it be the former SAFC-man AJ Ajeakwa?

How They Got Here
Both teams entered the Open Cup in the Second Round.

San Antonio FC defeated Midland-Odessa on the road 4-0 with a flurry of late second half goals. Scoring for San Antonio in the match were King, Lopez, Rodriguez, and Gordon.

Colorado defeated FC Denver at Weidner Field by a score of 3-2 with three second-half goals from Eboussi, Macias, and Burton a PK winner to complete the dramatic comeback victory.

SAFC in the Open Cup
San Antonio FC will be playing their 7th Open Cup match this Wednesday night. The team is 4-2 all-time in Open Cup matches and will be playing their first home match in the tournament since their very first Open Cup match ever, way back on 5/18/2016. San Antonio FC is 0-1 against USL teams in the Open Cup, losing to Tulsa in PKs last season. This will be the first-ever meeting between San Antonio FC and Colorado in the Open Cup. All-time San Antonio is 1-1-2 (W-D-L) against Colorado. Colorado has never beaten SAFC at Toyota Field.

The Fourth Round of the US Open Cup will take place June 6th, 2018.

2016
5/18/2016 vs San Antonio Corinthians W 3-1
6/1/2016 @ Des Moines Menace W 2-1
6/15/2016 @ Houston Dynamo L 4-0

2017
5/17/2017 @ Houston Dutch Lions W 2-1
5/31/2017 @ Tulsa Roughnecks L 0-0 (7-6)

2018
5/16/2018 @Midland-Odessa W 4-0

The Matchup – US Open Cup Third Round
Colorado Switchbacks @ San Antonio FC
Toyota Field, Wednesday, May 23rd
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ussoccer.com
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com

Key to victory

After two full calendar years have passed San Antonio FC by, they finally…finally, return home for an Open Cup match this Wednesday night at Toyota Field. And the stakes will be high, as a likely match with an MLS opponent, and one that will count for something awaits the winner.

San Antonio is running at least lukewarm, if not hot, coming off of their 5th straight match unbeaten in league play over the weekend, and a dominant 4-0 Open Cup victory over Midland-Odessa last week. Colorado had a tougher go of things with their Open Cup opponent FC Denver, but they did enough to eek it out and get the 3-2 victory. Neither team will feel great about last weekend, however, as both tripped up against bottom of the table teams in USL play. SAFC had a draw at home against Tulsa, and Colorado saw OKC Energy earn only their second win of the season, a 1-0 victory.

Colorado has had a see-saw year in USL play so far. Like San Antonio, they can really struggle to score. They had a recent four-game stretch that produced one goal. Luke Vercollone, Jordan Burt, Josh Suggs and maybe you remember this name…AJ Ajeakwa…are the leading threats on offense for the Switchbacks. But none of them are having a dynamic season and none have established themselves as the go-to guy on offense. Sound familiar? The one encouraging stat for Colorado’s offense? They are second in USL West in shots so far this season with 152 (San Antonio is near the bottom with 102). With that kind of heavy action in front of the net, one would have to guess that the offensive fortunes for the Switchbacks could be on the cusp of changing for the positive any time now.

In goal, it has been split duty between Moise Pouaty and Steward Ceus, with Pouaty getting seven appearances to Ceus’s five. Pouaty seems to be the lead dog in this chase with 18 saves to Ceus’s 7, and three clean sheets to go with it – same as Diego Restrepo. And it was Pouaty in net last week for Colorado in their Open Cup match. Colorado has five clean sheets on the year in USL play, good for second in the West. So they have been known to be a little bit stingy this season.

San Antonio will likely stick with a lineup more similar to what we saw last Wednesday than this past Saturday in league play. We’d expect to see Cardone back in the net. He had a couple of huge saves in his first appearance of the year and played tough, looking more like a number one keeper out there than one seeing his first action of the season. What a luxury at the GK position for SAFC. Defensively, we really wouldn’t be surprised to see McCarthy, Hedrick, and Christian all back out there again on Wednesday night. None were in the 18 for the Tulsa match. Perhaps we’ll see a shakeup in midfield. Although we loved seeing hometown favorite Maxi Rodriguez punch in a goal in his first start of 2018.

One storyline we can’t avoid is Mikey Lopez getting his first start since March last Wednesday. All he did was put in his team-leading third goal of the season (all competitions). He has only started in five matches all season long. He has scored in three of them. In one of the ones he didn’t score, he was red carded. From our vantage point, it’s time to turn Lopez loose. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be starting game in and game out. He produces, and it’s really that simple.

SAFC Academy product Ethan Bryant made the 18 (errrr……16….SAFC brought a small travel squad) last week, which is an achievement all its own for the 16-year-old Academy standout. And then he made the 18 again over the weekend for the Tulsa match but has yet to earn an appearance. Here’s to hoping Powell was saving his debut for this home Open Cup match. It would bring the house down.

Omar Gordon continues his impressive run of games as he too added a goal, and an assist, against Midland in sub duty. Not bad for 22 minutes of play. And then he scored again on Saturday night against Tulsa. Like Lopez, Gordon is must-start material as we see it. He looks dominant out there at the moment and is in tremendous form.

With a potential date against an MLS team awaiting the winner, and with the team FINALLY getting another home match in this tournament after such a long drought, we can’t see San Antonio squandering this opportunity against a team that has never come to Toyota Field and left with a victory. The magic of the Open Cup will continue for at least one more round. We’re calling this one for San Antonio FC in a tight contest.

Prediction
San Antonio FC – 2
Colorado Switchbacks – 1

SAFC Trivia
Last week SAFC beat Midland-Odessa 4-0. SAFC has scored four goals in a match two other times. Both of those matches were also 4-0 victories. Name the two opponents.

***Answer to come in the next Six Pointer Preview ***

Previous articleSAFC extends unbeaten streak in frustrating draw with Tulsa
Next articleSAFC advances to fourth round of U.S. Open Cup on first ever PK win
Stephen Michael 26, is a journalist, social media coordinator, host, and entertainment reporter. Michael graduated in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and earned a Master's Degree in Digital Media in 2020 from the University of the Incarnate Word. He has worked covering the San Antonio Rampage, Stars, and San Antonio Futbol Club. He was the host of the Project Spurs Roundtable on NBC affiliate News 4 San Antonio from 2015-17.

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