Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup opener against amateur side FC Denver is expected to be an opportunity for some of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks to escape the shadows of the shelter that shades the team bench.
Coach Steve Trittschuh handed off responsibilities for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game at Weidner Field to assistant Wolde Harris, who traveled to Denver last week to watch FC Denver’s 4-2 win over Azteca FC.
Harris, who’s been at Trittschuh’s side since 2014, expects a blue-collar effort from the visitors.
“They work really hard on both sides of the ball,” Harris said. “They have a couple pieces that can be very threatening. ... They press the ball really high and come with a lot of energy.”
Harris and Trittschuh talked through lineup selection, settling on a group that will allow some of the regular starters to get some rest ahead of Saturday’s return to United Soccer League play at Oklahoma City.
“For the most part, we know that most of the guys that haven’t been getting significant minutes will start,” Harris said. “Obviously, depending how the game is going, some of the other guys will get in.”
Uriel Macias, a first-year Switchback who returned to his home state of Indiana last weekend to graduate from IUPUI, is one of those players. He’s played just six minutes after coming on as a substitute in the March 24 loss to Portland Timbers 2.
“It’s rookie year, so I’m paying my dues,” Macias said before adding that adjusting to the altitude was the biggest hurdle of his first year of professional soccer.
His hope, after making the team via open tryout, is that a strong performance Wednesday could lead to a larger role with the team moving forward.
“It’s great, finally able to show my talent, finally be a part of the team on the field,” Macias said. “A chance to get a win, so it feels great.”
A win would send the Switchbacks to Texas for round three where they would face the winner of Midland-Odessa Sockers FC, of the National Premier Soccer League, or USL side San Antonio FC.
A couple of more wins could see the Switchbacks take on a Major League Soccer club - like the Colorado Rapids - in later stages of the tournament. That possibility provides inspiration for players hoping to attract the attention of an MLS club.
“I think that’s a big motivator for them, you know what I mean?” Harris said. “But, we have to get through these rounds first, and it starts tomorrow.”