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Colorado Springs Switchbacks look to build on momentum to garner home playoff game

September 7, 2016 Updated: September 7, 2016 at 11:57 am
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Saturday's performance in a 3-0 rout of LA Galaxy II suggests the Switchbacks may be surging just in time for a playoff run.

The win moved third-place Colorado Springs (12-8-7) up to 43 standings points, three short of clinching a berth in the Western Conference playoffs. That means the Switchbacks can advance to the United Soccer League postseason with one victory over the final three regular-season games for a top-eight finish.

But backing into the playoffs is not good enough, coach Steve Trittschuh said as the team prepared for Sunday afternoon's road game at fourth-place Vancouver (11-7-9, 42 points).

"The guys know what's at stake here," Trittschuh said. "They remain focused on a top-four finish."

The Vancouver game is part of a challenging finish for the Switchbacks, who will play 10 playoff contenders over their final 11 games.

With three remaining, Colorado Springs is 3-2-3 with both losses to second-place Rio Grande Valley. That stretch began with a 1-1 home tie against the Whitecaps 2 on July 29.

The final games are at Vancouver, home with 10th-place Seattle on Sept. 17, and at ninth-place Orange County on Sept. 24.

"It's going to prepare us for the postseason because basically every game has felt like the playoffs," Trittschuh said. "We are playing teams desperate to make the playoffs like Seattle, who came back to tie Vancouver with only 10 men."

The execution displayed Saturday showed how the Switchbacks are dialing in.

"We had a really good week of practice and that showed on Saturday," said reserve Davey Armstrong, who recently returned from a right ankle injury. "You can win every regular-season game but it's the playoffs that count and the guys understand that. You always want to enter the playoffs on a winning streak."

Some veterans have elevated their play. Mike Seth took advantage of a mismatch to score twice off headers and garner USL team of the week honors. Captain Luke Vercollone added a goal and assist to earn an honorable mention.

That sudden offensive uptick and the team's continued strong defensive play has Trittschuh looking to build upon Saturday's momentum.

"We had a good game plan and the guys did what they needed to do as a group to execute it," he said. "We just need to keep playing like we did."

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