By CHARLIE CORR – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC hit the mark in a number of areas during its first season in 2015. The club maintained a strong home-field advantage, had a deep roster, showcased a flurry of offensive moments and ultimately advanced to the conference semifinals of the 2015 USL Playoffs. A bulk of last season’s team returns this year to do this all over again, and Steve Trittschuh’s side certainly expects to step things up one more notch to be in contention for this year’s title.
Head coach: Steve Trittschuh
Stadium: Switchbacks Stadium
2015 results: 14-10-4 record; 3rd in Western Conference
2015 postseason: 2-0 win vs. Seattle in West Quarterfinals; 2-2 draw (4-3 shootout loss) vs. OKC in West Semifinals
Goalkeeper: Devala Gorrick quietly put together an impressive season last year with nine shutouts and a 12-7-2 regular-season record. He returns to anchor the back once again for the Switchbacks. This year’s goalkeeping corps includes two additions in former Orange County Blues FC backup William Thompson and former University of Denver goalkeeper Dan Jackson.
Defense: The Switchbacks made an important upgrade with the addition of left back Josh Suggs, who spent the previous two seasons with Orange County and helped the team win the Western Conference last year. This creates some strong competition among the back line as the starting four from the 2015 USL Playoffs returns for Colorado Springs. Jordan Burt can play both outside back positions. JJ Greer and Josh Phillips secured their center back roles. Nate Robinson played right back in the postseason, but he is a midfielder by trade and will be in the mix among that experienced group.
Midfield: Colorado Springs’ midfield has been through the USL grind for a number of seasons and serves as the club’s stable front. Luke Vercollone, a 2015 USL MVP candidate, returns for his second season with the Switchbacks, and the 33-year-old seems to be getting better with age, posting a career-high 14 goals and nine assists in 2015. Shintaro Harada brings just as much veteran experience to the club, and Rony Argueta also manned the middle of the pitch heavily last season. Some slightly-tested youth awaits in the wings. Kevin Durr was a late-game option for Trittschuh last season, and the club’s head coach had his eyes on versatile newcomer Jacob Cawsey for a while now following the 2014 PDL season.
Forward: Similar to the midfield, Switchbacks fans will recognize the front line corps quite well, headlined by the speedy Miguel Gonzalez and the aggressive pressure that veteran Aaron King always brings to the table. Gonzalez’s 10 goals and seven assists both ranked second on the club last season, while King contributed seven tallies in 2015. Mike Seth also was a crucial part of the team’s offense, while fellow returnees Martin Maybin and Saeed Robinson were constant fixtures off the Switchbacks’ bench. It figures to be another entertaining season among this group.
Strengths: The one-two punch of Luke Vercollone and Miguel Gonzalez is one of the strongest attacking duos in the USL. Last season, they accounted for a combined 24 goals and 16 assists. While those numbers could prove difficult to match in 2016, the forward and midfield depth on this club is strong, meaning the likes of an Aaron King, Mike Seth or Shintaro Harada could be the beneficiaries of defenses zoned in on Gonzalez and Vercollone.
Weaknesses: The real question should be does Colorado Springs have a glaring weakness? The defense was the area that Steve Trittschuh singled out as wanting to address, and the addition of Josh Suggs certainly appears to make for a collective upgrade. Nevertheless, the defensive unit will continue to be the point of concern – even if that concern has been minimized – because of the Switchbacks’ open style of play in the attack.
Key number: 8 – Luke Vercollone was a perfect 8-for-8 in penalty kicks during the 2015 season, and the Switchbacks collectively converted all 10 of their PK attempts.
Noteworthy matchups: Look no further than the team’s 2016 regular-season opener on the road. The Switchbacks face OKC Energy FC on Saturday, March 26, to resume a rivalry that had a bunch of drama in 2015. The Switchbacks should have a chip on their shoulder following their shootout loss to Energy FC in the USL Western Conference Semifinals.
Coach’s view: “This year we have a target on our backs. Teams know how we play, know what we are about, and it’s not going to be easy.” – Steve Trittschuh
Current roster (updated: March 8, 2016):
Goalkeepers: Devala Gorrick, Dan Jackson, William Thompson
Defenders: Jordan Burt, JJ Greer, Josh Phillips, Nate Robinson, Josh Suggs
Midfielders: Rony Argueta, Davy Armstrong, Jacob Cawsey, Kevin Durr, Shintaro Harada, Luke Vercollone
Forwards: Miguel Gonzalez, Aaron King, Martin Maybin, Saeed Robinson, Mike Seth