When presented with equal amounts of positives and negatives from Saturday’s draw with Rio Grande Valley, Switchbacks interim coach Wolde Harris stayed true to himself.
“I’m constantly the optimist and being positive and looking to build on things,” the coach said after a 3-3 draw at Weidner Field that prevented the Switchbacks from jumping the Toros in the United Soccer League Championship’s Western Conference table.
There was nothing but positives early.
Shane Malcolm took a pass from Tucker Bone and beat the RGV keeper with a left-footed shot from distance in the 12th minute. Eight minutes later, Jordan Burt lived up to his blue-collar reputation by battling for a rebound off a Mike Seth shot and finishing his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
“We basically played through them for the first 25 to 30 minutes because we had quality on the ball and quality off the ball and everybody was on the same page so much so that we turned them over in their own half quite a bit,” Harris said.
“They were kinda sitting back and we were aggressive and taking it to them,” Burt added.
The bad took over for a stretch soon after. Rio Grande Valley got one back with a nice team goal and equalized before the half when the assistant referee ruled the ball completely crossed the line in the 40th minute. In the 58th minute, Andres Arcila caught Abraham Rodriguez, who recently signed a professional contract with the Switchbacks, off balance on a set piece to put the visitors in front.
Fortunately for Harris, there was one more positive to take away after defender Abdul Rwatubyaye soared above RGV defenders to head home an Ish Jome corner kick in stoppage time.
“We always talk about we always get chances off set pieces and corners,” Rwatubyaye said. “It was time for us to be aggressive. I saw it coming, and I said ‘Let me attack the ball.’”
That seems to be the type of attitude Harris is looking for more of moving forward.
“What we have to constantly keep working on is the psychology of winning, having a winning mentality and doing whatever it takes to win,” Harris said.
Harris added that he’s seen incremental growth during his time in charge, and that late goal reflected as much.
“I don’t think we’ve done that too much this season. It speaks to where the guys are,” Harris said. “We just need to keep moving forward. But at the end of the day, we need to start accumulating points really quickly. Here comes another test for us on the road against a quality side.”
After two home games this week, the Switchbacks head out on the road for the next two starting with Saturday’s match at Sacramento Republic.
“The main takeaway is that we showed some character at the end. But for me, after going up two goals, we stopped playing. We stopped doing the things that got us the two goals. We gave them space and time to play,” Harris said.
“We need to recognize our mistakes and work on it, but I think we’re going to build on those positives going into Sacramento.”