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Switchbacks in search of scoring ahead of Rio Grande Valley's visit

April 6, 2018 Updated: April 6, 2018 at 10:51 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 coach Steve Trittschuh believes the goals are coming one way or another.

Wednesday’s 1-0 loss against the Swope Park Rangers, who Trittschuh called the best team in the league, stretched the Switchbacks' goalless run to an excess of 300 minutes.

“The guys know, and you could feel it from them, they know kinda what’s going on. We’re just not scoring goals,” Trittschuh said. “Defensively, we’re playing decent, and attacking-wise, we’re creating chances. We’re just not being aggressive and putting them in there.”

Saturday’s 6 p.m. contest against Rio Grande Valley at Weidner Field, the team’s third game in eight days, provides another opportunity.

Rio Grande Valley brings two points to Colorado, drawing its only two matches, and will square off against a Switchbacks side that’s been stuck on three points since the March 17 opener.

“Three points, that’s the focus, just get back on winning ways,” Shane Malcolm said. “Once we score a goal, I’m pretty sure our team will start finding goals out of nowhere. That’s just who we are.”

An inability to put away chances has cost the Switchbacks points. That’s prompted the coaching staff to look for outside options. At the top of their list is a player with a knack for finishing.

“It’s someone that’s aggressive, that has a nose for goal,” Trittschuh said. “You could call them an opportunist or whatever, but it’s someone who gets in the box and knows how to score a goal.”

While there won’t be any new faces by Saturday, the Switchbacks are again expected to trot out a different starting 11. Between Luke Vercollone splitting time at right back and forward, Malcolm and Saeed Robinson missing Week 2, Marty Maybin watching the action due to injury and changing goalkeepers against Swope Park, there have been few constants in the early going.

“It’s trying to find the right combination on guys and seeing what the other team is doing also,” Trittschuh said.

Malcolm makes the most of Guam call-up

Malcolm returned to the Switchbacks for the first road trip after missing the March 24 home contest against Portland due to a trip to San Diego for camp with the Guam national team.

“For a new coach to come in and believe in me, I appreciate that,” Malcolm said.

Malcolm, who is eligible for Guam through his paternal grandfather, helped in a win over San Diego State before a young side struggled against LA Galaxy II.

“The first friendly went well,” Malcolm said. “We won 2-1, and the second game we played a younger squad just to get the young guys experience and stuff like that. The result wasn’t what we wanted, but we definitely developed our style of play and what the coach is trying to achieve.”

Malcolm, who has played professionally in Guam, got a chance to take in some of the culture from San Diego. The camp coincided with the Chamorro Festival, which celebrates the heritage of the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, of which Guam is included.

“That was perfect timing that it was during our camp, so we got to meet other Guamanian people who were in San Diego at the time,” Malcolm said. “It was sweet.”

Now the hope is that Malcolm can get back to creating goals for the Switchbacks, as he did early in the opener when he set up AJ Ajeakwa’s strike that is nominated for USL goal of the month.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Trittschuh said. “He’s good when he’s able to take guys on one-on-one and use his speed to get around. We still need more out of him. We need him to score some goals, AJ and Saeed also.”

USL, ESPN expand agreement

The days of watching any United Soccer League game free of charge on YouTube are quickly coming to an end.

The USL and ESPN announced an expanded broadcasting agreement Friday.

Starting April 14, USL matches will be broadcast on ESPN+, a subscription service that costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 annually.

The agreement will not impact FOX21/SOCO CW’s broadcast of Switchback home games.

ESPN3, a digital channel, will broadcast the USL game of the week, according to a USL release. A game of the week schedule has not yet been released.

“Our clubs and players will benefit from the significantly increased exposure across ESPN’s linear networks, ESPN3, and our presence on ESPN+ alongside Major League Soccer, the English Football League and UEFA Nations League, and other top international soccer leagues and tournaments,” USL Chief Executive Officer Alec Papadakis said in the release.

ESPN+ is set to launch April 12.

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