The Colorado Springs Switchbacks hope a new look will bring better results in 2018.
The club unveiled a new jersey, a black and blue striped kit, with new partner Capelli Sport on Tuesday afternoon at Antlers Hotel ahead of the March 17 season opener at Weidner Field.
“I love them,” said defender Josh Suggs, who was introduced as the 2018 captain at the event.
“They fit really well. I like the black and blue aspect of it, the stripes. It’s really nice.”
The jersey might not come from a company with the budget or reach of Nike, which made last year’s jerseys, but the hope is that the smaller company described by coach Steve Trittschuh and president Nick Ragain as “up and coming” can offer the club more.
“Capelli is going to take care of us, I think,” Trittschuh said.
The Switchbacks coach is back for a fourth year after failing to reach the playoffs for the first time in 2017. His message to the fans and media on hand was simple: last season wasn’t good enough.
The Switchbacks went 12-12-8 and finished two points back of Sacramento and Tulsa for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. That led to some significant changes in personnel, as the club tried to identify players with United Soccer League experience.
“I think the guys we brought in just weren’t up to par last year,” Trittschuh said.
“Instead of going younger, I needed some guys that have played in the league.”
Luke Vercollone, listed as “the original Switchback” in his team bio, can see the benefit of a more veteran squad.
“I think there’s less cliques, less petty distractions and a better feel for our identity,” the club’s career leading scorer said. “So that will hopefully translate to results on the field.”
Of the new signings, only Ayukokata Tambe, who spent last season in El Salvador's top league, lacks USL exposure.
"These guys know what it’s about," Trittschuh said. "We’ve got better leadership this year and like I said, more experienced players."
Kacher makes move to Real Monarchs
While left winger Masta Kacher was announced on social media as a returning player in January, he apparently lacked interest in spending the season in Colorado Springs.
“At the end of the season last year, he made it clear he didn’t want to be here,” Trittschuh said Tuesday.
Although it was stated Monday that he was released by the Switchbacks, there appears to have been some incentive for the local club to facilitate the move.
“I don’t want players that don’t want to be here, but I wasn’t going to just give him away,” Trittschuh said of Kacher, who scored seven goals and recorded seven assists while starting all 32 matches in 2017.
“We did a deal that’s in our favor for it, and we’re moving on.”
Per Switchbacks club policy, the terms of his release were not disclosed.
AJ Ajeakwa, a forward who started the final five matches of 2017 and scored as a reserve in his Switchbacks debut after joining the team in September, was officially announced as a member of the 2018 squad in the same release.