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Switchbacks stumble late, lose to Phoenix

September 9, 2017 Updated: September 9, 2017 at 9:24 pm
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Jul 1, 2017; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC midfielder Masta Kacher (10) controls the ball in the second half against the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at Weidner Field. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing/Switchbacks FC

A troubling trend continued for the Colorado Springs Switchbacks in a 2-1 loss to Phoenix Rising on Saturday at Weidner Field.

Not only have the Switchbacks failed to earn a point in their last two home matches, they’ve seen their opportunities to salvage a point evaporate late.

Most recently, it was Phoenix's AJ Gray taking the space given to him and beating Colorado Springs keeper Moise Pouaty to the far post in the 86th minute, helping the visitors jump the Switchbacks into seventh place in the USL Western Conference.

“To give up another goal like that, that’s how it’s been going this year,” Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh said. “We give up bad goals at bad times.”

The game-winner came three minutes after AJ Ajeakwa finished off a Josh Suggs cross to level things. Phoenix’s Amadou Dia beat Pouaty to the near post from a sharp angle to open the scoring in the 50th minute.

“We’re frustrated,” defender Josh Phillips said. “I don’t know… We’re on our back foot, and we’re going to push. We’re going to fight until the end of the whistle for the remainder of the five games and see what happens.”

The Switchbacks believe they opened the scoring early. Kevaughn Frater was taken down outside the box and sent the ensuing free kick off the bar and, from Trittschuh’s point of view, into goal. The referees did not see it the same way.

“It’s a goal actually, if you look at the replay,” the Switchback coach said. “It goes about two feet inside the line.”

Frater’s night ended before the end of the first half. The Switchbacks came out hoping to set a fervent pace by pressing. When that didn’t happen, Frater was subbed for Tobenna Uzo, who made his home debut.

“It started with him up top,” Trittschuh said of Frater. “We needed energy out of him, and he didn’t have it.”

Uzo was joined by recent signings Ajeakwa and Shawn Chin, who started a right back, in a group of fresh faces that could provide some needed depth over the Switchbacks’ final five games.

“It’s going to push players and hopefully bring a little spark that we need to finish out the season,” Phillips said.

The Switchbacks return to action Saturday at Seattle Sounders 2.

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