While the preseason looked to present few problems for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, the six-game slate didn’t provide many answers for coach Steve Trittschuh, either.
The Switchbacks outscored opponents 17-2 in the games leading up to Saturday’s 6 p.m. season opener against Los Angeles Galaxy II at Weidner Field. Both goals conceded came in a 2-1 loss at Colorado School of Mines.
Unfortunately for Trittschuh, only one of the five wins - a 1-0 result against Reno 1868 - came against another United Soccer League side.
“I would rather if we had a couple more higher-level games, but that’s our preseason,” the Switchbacks coach said. “If we could’ve started a couple weeks earlier like everybody else in the league did, that would’ve helped, but I think we’re in a decent place.”
The bulk of the tune-ups came against college sides or lower-level teams, but posting five clean sheets was a positive for a team looking to improve in the back.
“Even though the competition is not really where we wanted it, (I said) let’s make sure we’re not giving up goals because I still believe we’ll score goals,” Trittschuh said. “As long as we don’t give up goals, then we’ll be fine.”
Who will do the scoring is a question that will take some time to answer. The Switchbacks lost two of their three leading scorers from a season ago. Jordan Burt is the team’s leading returning scorer after bagging eight goals a season ago.
The Switchbacks do, however, feel like they’ve got the pieces to replace the scoring lost from Kevaughn Frater and Masta Kasher. Guys like AJ Ajeakwa, Shane Malcom, Saeed Robinson and Taeseong Kim provide pace up top and on the wings, while Tobenna Uzo and Marty Maybin provide targets in the box and the ability to hold up play.
That’s good news for Jordan Schweitzer, who figures to be featured in the middle of the Switchbacks’ formation.
“It’s always nice to have different options,” Schweitzer said. “They’re all great players, and they all give something different. So I’m looking forward to playing with all of them this year, and they’re all going to make an impact.”
Like the pecking order in the attack, Trittschuh said the situation in goal is also fluid.
Moise Pouaty is back after finishing second in the USL with 97 saves in 26 matches in 2017, while Steward Ceus comes to Colorado Springs after last year’s stint with the San Francisco Deltas of the North American Soccer League. As of Tuesday, it was uncertain who would take the field with the first 11 Saturday.
“They’re pretty even,” Trittschuh said. “Neither of them has many weaknesses, so we just gotta see who fits into the team right now. They’re both going to be part of the team as we go forward.”
Further clouding the situation going into Saturday is the uncertainty of who exactly is coming to town. With the Los Angeles Galaxy off this weekend, Los Dos has a larger player pool to choose from, but the Switchbacks seem focused on what they can control.
“It’s all about us at this point,” Schweitzer said. “It really didn’t matter who we play. We’re chomping at the bit to get going, and we’re going to make sure that all the focus is on us, and whoever comes out in that lineup will be ready.”
To celebrate Saint Patrick's Day, green beer will be sold for $1 for the first 30 minutes with a postgame fireworks show.