The scoreless draw may suggest an uneventful match between Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and El Paso Locomotive, but the season-ticket holders in attendance Saturday night at Weidner Field could tell a different story.
The Switchbacks earned their first point at home this season, a performance coach Alan Koch claimed as the best since the restart, and got to celebrate Jordan Burt’s 150th appearance for the club. Burt, the only player to be a part of each of the club’s six seasons, was celebrated before the match and went on to play the full 90 minutes at right back, helping young goalkeeper Abraham Rodriguez to his first clean sheet of the season.
“Obviously you have aspirations to do bigger and better things, but I feel so blessed,” Burt said. “I mean, I look back on how I got here, and it feels like God’s fingerprints are all over this, and I’m supposed to be here. That’s a very comforting feeling.”
Koch found some comfort in his team’s performance after El Paso scored four goals and comfortably beat the Switchbacks two weeks ago in Texas. After the first meeting with the Locomotive, Koch said it looked like men against boys at times.
“Tonight was men against men,” Koch said. “Our players really stepped up. I think we put in a perfect performance, other than (not) scoring a goal, obviously.”
Early on, it looked like the goals were coming. The Switchbacks earned a handful of corner kicks and forced turnovers in El Paso’s defensive half that turned into looks at goal. The Switchbacks final chance came on a stoppage-time corner kick that was eventually cleared just in front of the goal line.
“Very happy for the point that we get today because when we played over there, it seems they were better than us,” left back Joan Cervos said. “But today we showed we can compete against everybody.”
The Switchbacks will get a handful of chances to prove as much in the coming days. The club hosts Austin Bold FC on Wednesday and New Mexico United on Saturday before El Paso returns the following Wednesday. Burt, who also recently celebrated his 30th birthday, said he’s ready to go as often as Koch needs him.
“Hey, they say 28, 29, 30 is your prime. I’m feeling great,” Burt said. “I tell these young bucks I’m fitter and mentally superior to them. So I got a lot of soccer to play.”
His 151st and 152nd appearance in black and blue seem imminent but probably won’t come with the same celebration as 150. Burt’s wife showed her support displaying a couple of posters. One read “I (heart) Burt,” while another displayed his signature brown mustache, a fitting sign of the blue-collar approach he continues to bring six years after he joined the Switchbacks organization.
“He is the absolute consummate professional. We’re incredibly lucky to have him here in Colorado Springs,” Koch said. “To achieve 150 games, like he has, for a club as a professional is almost unheard of, particularly nowadays when players are moving so often. His loyalty to the cause, and the club’s loyalty to him is very, very impressive.”