USL Playoff Preview
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
TAMPA, Fla. – The No. 3-seed Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and No. 6-seed Seattle Sounders FC 2 open the postseason on Friday night in the conference quarterfinals of the 2015 USL Playoffs. Kickoff at Sand Creek Stadium is set for 9 p.m. ET as the teams meet for the right to face No. 2-seed OKC Energy FC in the conference semifinals.
NO. 3 COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC
· How they got here: Colorado Springs clinched a spot in the 2015 USL Playoffs on Sept. 5. The Switchbacks’ 1-0 win, combined with Arizona United SC’s 3-2 loss to Real Monarchs SLC later that night, booked a place in the postseason in their first USL campaign. Colorado Springs enjoyed several stints at the top of the Western Conference, and the side’s best run this year was a six-game winning streak from June 6-July 3. During that run, the Switchbacks outscored their opponents 16-2, posting four shutouts. Colorado Springs’ offense generated 53 goals, the most in the Western Conference and tied for the second-most in the USL with the Eastern Conference’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
· Regular season marks: 14-10-4 (46 points) | 9-3-2 at home; 5-7-2 on the road | 53 GF, 35 GA
· Regular season leaders: Luke Vercollone (14 goals, 9 assists), Devala Gorrick (61 saves, 9 shutouts)
· Postseason history: This is Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s inaugural season and first appearance in the USL Playoffs.
· Noteworthy: Switchbacks midfielder Luke Vercollone, the club’s first signing, has lived up to the role in just about every facet of the game. He not only led the team in goals (14) and assists (9), but he also has served as the Switchbacks’ primary penalty kick taker. Vercollone’s patented rush to the spot has resulted in a perfect 8-for-8 conversion rate. Aaron King and Chandler Hoffman recorded Colorado Springs’ other two PKs as the club collectively went 10-for-10.
About head coach Steve Trittschuh: In March of 2014, Trittschuh was officially named the Switchbacks head coach as the organization prepared for its inaugural 2015 USL season. For several years after his playing career, he served as an assistant coach for Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids. Trittschuh was a former member of the U.S. Men’s National Team and was part of the 1990 FIFA World Cup squad. Professionally, Trittschuh played for a number of teams, both in outdoor and indoor. From 1996-99, the defender represented the Rapids, where his side finished runner-up to D.C. United at the 1997 MLS Cup.
NO. 6 SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC 2
· How they got here: Of all the teams that qualified for the 2015 USL Playoffs, Seattle hit the roughest regular-season patch before finally pulling off a needed victory in the finale. S2 clinched the sixth and final berth when it rallied for a 3-2 victory against the Austin Aztex on Sept. 17 at Starfire Stadium. Entering that game, a win or a draw was enough to beat out Tulsa Roughnecks FC for that final playoff spot. The needed victory came after Seattle had been through a horrendous 1-0-6 stretch dating back to the start of August. For the better part of the first half of its inaugural USL season, Seattle was regularly in the mix for first place in the competitive Western Conference. S2 opened the season with three consecutive wins and held a highly respectable 11-6-3 record through July.
· Regular season marks: 13-12-3 (42 points) | 11-3-0 at home; 2-9-3 on the road | 45 GF, 42 GA
· Regular season leaders: Pablo Rossi (8 goals), Andy Craven (5 assists), Charlie Lyon (80 saves, 4 shutouts)
· Postseason history: This is Seattle Sounders FC 2’s inaugural season and first appearance in the USL Playoffs.
· Noteworthy: On June 27, Andy Craven became the first S2 player to be signed to the MLS side, Seattle Sounders FC. At the time, his five goals tied for the USL goal scoring lead. Despite not being with S2 for much of the season Craven’s five assists still led the team during the regular season.
About head coach Ezra Hendrickson: Hendrickson is in the midst of his first season with S2. He started off his coaching career as an assistant heading into the 2009 MLS season with Seattle Sounders FC. The former defender was the captain of St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Professionally, he represented seven different MLS clubs, with his longest tenure with the LA Galaxy from 1997-03. He was a member of three MLS Cup-winning teams – the 2002 Galaxy, 2004 D.C. United and 2008 Columbus Crew SC.
2015 HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP
S2 and Colorado Springs faced each other twice during the regular season, with Seattle winning the season series with a 1-0-1 record. Seattle played to a 1-1 draw on July 18 at Sand Creek Stadium. Aaron King’s first-half goal gave the Switchbacks an early lead, but S2’s Sergio Mota equalized 15 minutes into the second half. Seattle then defeated Colorado Springs 3-2 at Starfire Stadium, with all three goals coming in the second half – two from Myron Samuel and one from Sergio Mota. The Switchbacks’ Miguel Gonzalez scored the game’s opening goal and King added a tally late.