Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s time at Weidner Field featured seemingly equal highs and lows and the chapter closed mostly in the middle.
The local United Soccer League Championship team’s time playing games on the east side of the city ended with Wednesday’s scoreless draw against El Paso Locomotive, a playoff-bound team. Members of the Switchbacks agreed the group has championship potential.
“The team we played against tonight has the potential to go on and win this thing,” Colorado Springs coach Alan Koch said. “For us to go toe-to-toe with them and be a little disappointed that we didn’t win it in the end, shows the growth, shows where we’re going. I think we know we’ve still got a long way to go.”
For the Switchbacks, a team not only transitioning to a new downtown stadium but also to a new style of play, Wednesday’s finale featured a good mix of what’s to come and what the club has been for the previous five years.
There was the “possession with a purpose” desired from Koch, who’s nearing the end of his first full season of the club, and there was also the toughness and issues finishing that represent the positives and negatives of the Steve Trittschuh era. To get to where the club wants to be will require a combining of the positives.
“If you look at the top teams, they’re not only good footballers, good with the ball, but they work and put their bodies on the line,” veteran Switchbacks midfielder Rony Argueta said.
There were chances to score what could’ve gone down as the match-winner. Jordan Burt missed an early chance; Aidan Daniels watched a shot from distance glide just over the bar and Luke Ferreira saw his attempt in the 42nd minute roll just wide.
“Actually, it was one of our best games all season,” Burt said. “It was awesome to see the work the guys put in and we’re definitely unfortunate not to get a win there, but it’s a cruel game. I probably should’ve scored that. We could’ve gone out on a high note.”
Ferreira and George Lebese produced second-half chances, but the Switchbacks would also need a goal-line clearance from defender Ever Rubio in the final 10 minutes to take a point out of their final match.
Afterwards, the Switchbacks took an extended lap around the field to thank the limited crowd for its support over the years.
“It’s crazy how many of them I know by name. Just appreciative of them supporting us through all the ups and downs. This is a special place,” said Burt, the only man with the team for all six seasons in the club’s history.
“The fans make it special, so thank you to the fans.”
The hope is some of the existing fans will be joined by new fans for an even better gameday experience downtown, signaling another mixture of the past, present and future.
“We’re building. We’re gaining momentum and we’re heading in the right direction,” Koch said.
The new downtown stadium sits about 20 minutes southwest of Weidner Field, and it’s not the only part of the club hopefully becoming more attractive.
“We will fight, of course, and we will maintain that identity. That’s part of who the Switchbacks are, but we’re here to play some good football,” Koch said. “We’re trying to build, we’re trying to possess, we’re trying to create. That’s what is going to take us into the new stadium and allow us to have success, but you don’t change your identity overnight. It takes time.
"We’re definitely still growing, but you can see it. There’s been some beautiful football that we played during the course of the season. We want to have longer moments of that beautiful football, but we’ll get there. It will just take us a little bit of time.”