Colorado Springs enters the United Soccer League playoffs on a downward note, recording its poorest performance in a regular-season finale loss that dropped it from Western Conference title contender to third.
But the Switchbacks have already put that behind them, coach Steve Trittschuh said.
"We have to," he said. "We must find a way to play our game because we play a team we match up well against. I think we have a good game plan but (Vancouver) can be dangerous."
The Switchbacks host No. 6 seed Vancouver, a team that struggled down the stretch but has the talent to pull off the road upset. Colorado Springs went 1-0-1 against the Whitecaps 2 this season. Game time is 7 p.m. Friday at Switchbacks Stadium.
The Whitecaps 2 (12-9-9) ended the regular season with a victory to put a happy face on a tough two-month stretch that saw Vancouver stumble from atop the Western Conference standings downward with a 2-5-3 mark over its final 10 games, including a loss to Colorado Springs. That skid offset a 10-game undefeated streak to start the season.
Vancouver has good offensive talent including forward and captain Kyle Grieg (team-high 11 goals, three assists), and midfielders/forwards Marco Bustos (seven goals) and Daniel Haber (seven goals, team-best four assists).
"You know the thing about the playoffs in this league, or any league really, is that anybody can win the entire thing," Greig said in a news release. "It doesn't matter what position you're in, as long as you're in the playoffs anything can happen. So that's something that I'll reiterate to the guys who haven't experienced the playoffs yet."
Greig and Giuliano Frano (Seattle, 2015) are the only Whitecaps 2 players, 21 of whom are 21 years old or younger, with USL playoff experience.
For its part, Colorado Springs needs to perform with an aggressive defensive posture that led to a three-game winning streak that put them atop the conference for a while. Captain Luke Vercollone and forward Mike Seth have stepped forward as offensive finishers while the defense needs to return to form.
The Switchbacks (14-9-7) are healthy, giving Trittschuh plenty of options while keeping in mind this game could be decided in 120 minutes with overtime and penalty kicks a possibility in single-elimination playoffs. The lineups will remain unsettled for both teams until Friday afternoon.
"After that loss I told everyone that their positions are up for grabs," he said. "We're hoping for a good week of (practice) to show who deserves to start and who will be on the bench."