A three-game winning streak has Colorado Springs within reach of the Western Conference crown and home field in the playoffs.
But the Switchbacks (14-8-7) must defeat 10th-place Orange County (11-14-4) on the road at 8 p.m. Saturday to accomplish that in the United Soccer League franchise's second season.
"It's another desperate opponent because they know they need to win to make the playoffs (as Seattle needed to last weekend)," Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh said.
Colorado Springs and Sacramento (13-6-10) are tied for first in points (49). Colorado Springs has one more victory at this time to win the initial tiebreaker. The second tiebreaker is goal differential where Colorado Springs has the edge by two over Sacramento. The third is the number of goals scored.
Third-place Rio Grande Valley (13-7-9, 48 points) is only one point out of first and could overtake both with a win over eighth-place San Antonio on Saturday and a loss or tie for both Colorado Springs and Sacramento, which plays at last-place Tulsa.
The Switchbacks can finish no worse than third, guaranteeing a home game in the first round at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 at Switchbacks Stadium.
"I am not even going to pay attention to the other games," Trittschuh said. "We're going there to win the game, win the conference and get home field in the playoffs, which is an advantage for us."
"We know the other teams don't like coming here to play with the altitude and the crowd noise," midfielder Rony Argueta said. "We believe that we have a real chance at winning the USL championship. You can feel it on the field and in the way the guys are off (the field). They are all gearing up for the playoffs. The mentality is already there."
"We're going to (Orange County) to get three points," defender Josh Phillips said. "We want home field in the playoffs. We want teams to come to Colorado Springs in October to play."