With expansion side Las Vegas Lights — the United Soccer League leader in headlines — coming to Colorado Springs for its first game at Weidner Field at 7 p.m. Friday, the Switchbacks’ focus is internal.
The Lights, according to Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh, play differently when they’re not feeding off the energy of roughly 10,000 fans at Cashman Field, and they’ve only played away from home twice. That leaves the Switchbacks to worry about themselves and another scoreless drought of more than 300 minutes.
“I gave them some information about Vegas, but I said, ‘Let’s concentrate on our game this weekend,’ ” Trittschuh said.
The training put an emphasis on ending that streak.
“The last two to three games, we didn’t score no goals, so all the emphasis was based on finishing so we can bring it into the game tomorrow,” centerback Jamal Jack said.
The last time the Switchbacks went three games without scoring, they rebounded with six goals and six points over their next two matches.
The hope is history repeats itself Friday.
If it doesn’t, change may come up top where AJ Ajeakwa (2), Shane Malcolm (1) and Saeed Robinson have combined for three goals through 10 games.
“I’ve kinda put a little pressure on those guys this week because I said, ‘If it’s not there, it’s gotta be a change in personnel or I gotta start bringing some guys in,’ which I’m still working on,” Trittschuh said.
“I have confidence in them. They have confidence in themselves, but it’s the results that matter.”
The Lights have taken the field with llamas, became the first United States professional sports team to have a sponsorship deal with a marijuana dispensary and signed Freddy Adu, the former teen phenom who is again attempting to revive his career.
“They have to do what they have to do, especially in a town like Vegas, but to me, it’s a little extreme,” Trittschuh said. “It seems like they’re trying to throw teams off, but playing here, it’s our home, and we’ve got to take care of our home.”
The drama has made it to the field, as Las Vegas has had a player sent off in three consecutive matches. Midfielder Matt Thomas is suspended after seeing red Saturday against Tulsa, while Las Vegas captain Joel Huiqui will miss for yellow card accumulation. The club’s technical director, Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, was suspended seven games for what was deemed to be referee assault in a loss to San Antonio in late April.
“We’ve got to be smart,” Trittschuh said. “We can’t get caught up in all that. We’ve got to play our game.”
The Lights have drawn three of their last four and sit at 10 points through seven games. The Switchbacks have 10 points in 11 matches.
Open Cup opponent
The Switchbacks will host FC Denver in their 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup debut after the amateur side beat Azteca FC, 4-2, Wednesday night behind Cesar Castillo’s hat trick.
Wednesday’s match looks to be an opportunity for some of the Switchbacks’ reserves to carve out bigger roles moving forward, especially if they can find the back of the net.
“They have to step up. It’s an amateur team, but that’s going to be their shot to prove me wrong,” Trittschuh said. "Because like I said, 'If (Friday does) not going to go well, I’ve got to look for guys that want to step up, especially in the attacking part of the game.' ”