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Switchbacks forward AJ Ajeakwa forgets team's scoring struggles, focuses on Reno

May 4, 2018 Updated: May 4, 2018 at 4:02 pm
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photo - Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC forward AJ Ajeakwa (14), right, dribbles the ball past Portland Timbers II defender Nathan Smith (42) at Weidner Stadium on Saturday March 24, 2018 in Colorado Springs. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC forward AJ Ajeakwa (14), right, dribbles the ball past Portland Timbers II defender Nathan Smith (42) at Weidner Stadium on Saturday March 24, 2018 in Colorado Springs. (Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette). 

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC forward AJ Ajeakwa has learned forgetfulness is not always a bad thing when it comes to sport.

It can become rather important during stretches where the final piece isn’t there, as has been the case recently for Ajeakwa and the Switchbacks attack.

The Switchbacks haven’t scored in two matches with the last goal coming in the first half of the April 18 game at Sacramento.

“From my dad’s advice and other former strikers that have played at a high level, they always tell me ‘The best strikers or the best goal scorers, they forget,’” Ajeakwa said.

That leaves Ajeakwa, whose two goals tie for the team lead, looking forward to Saturday’s 6 p.m. game against Reno 1868 at Weidner Field.

There’s always a game after that, so I gotta focus on the next game at hand,” Ajeakwa said. “Right now, my focus is on Reno and the back of the net.”

Ajeakwa’s last goal came against Reno in a 4-0 win at Greater Nevada Field on April 14.

Reno is unbeaten since, winning a pair of games before Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against Rio Grande Valley. Saturday’s opponent has tweaked its shape and personnel since its last loss, but Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh expects another positive showing against Reno, a team the Switchbacks also beat 1-0 in the preseason.

“The guys know we need to get three points,” Trittschuh said. “We actually had a good week of training this week, and the guys are in good spirits, so I’m looking forward to a good game tomorrow.”

Finishing was the focus of the week’s training, as the Switchbacks defense has continued its strong run of play, allowing seven goals in nine games.

It’s that final piece of the puzzle we’ve got to find, who’s going to score the goals,” Trittschuh said.

Coming and going

Trittschuh will have almost a full roster to choose from when filling out his starting 11 for Saturday’s game against Reno.

The only exception is midfielder Sam Hamilton, who made his club debut on loan from the Colorado Rapids in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Orange County. Hamilton is traveling with the Rapids to Sporting KC this weekend.

Luke Vercollone, who served a one-game suspension last week, and JJ Tambe, who did not travel with an ankle injury, are both expected to be available.

“We have a full team to pick from this week finally,” Trittschuh said.

Too early to worry

Through nine games the Switchbacks sit ninth in the USL’s Western Conference standings, one spot out of the playoff picture, entering Saturday.

While the team has played at least one more game than every other team in the conference and in some cases two or three more times, Trittschuh isn’t spending much time studying the table.

“It’s still early, so I try not to look at it,” the coach said.

The good news is the Switchbacks’ losses have all come by a single goal, giving the team a plus-two goal differential despite a 3-5-1 record.

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