Cesar Romero and Fernando Delfin started atop the Switchbacks formation together for the first time Saturday night against Austin Bold and early returns were positive in a 1-1 draw.
In the 41st minute, Delfin, a recent acquisition from Liga MX (Mexico) side Club America, chased down a ball from Tucker Bone and played it across for Romero. The Honduran striker turned and blasted a shot past Austin goalkeeper Diego Restrepo for his second goal in a Switchbacks uniform.
Beyond what he saw in practice, Switchbacks interim coach Wolde Harris figured at least the two would be on the same page at Weidner Field.
“I think the communication aspect is there as well, both speak Spanish,” Harris said. “We were banking on them (being) able to communicate with one another and put pressure on the ball. Both have the right skill sets to play that position.”
Delfin also speaks English after growing up in private schools, which allows him to communicate with the majority of the Switchbacks, who are not native Spanish speakers.
“As long as we can communicate with each other, I can communicate stuff that he tells me with the team,” Delfin said. “We are going to be good.”
The Colorado Springs Switchbacks rode Romero’s goal to a 1-0 lead at the half and into a 30-minute lightning delay right around the hour mark.
From there, things went downhill for the hosts.
Jordan Burt saw his penalty kick saved moments after the weather passed, and Austin equalized when Gustavo Rissi created some separation off a corner kick and headed the ball past Abraham Rodriguez in the 70th minute.
“To give up another set-piece goal is in some ways is frustrating,” Harris admitted afterward. “That being said, the team didn’t quit. We kept pushing forward. Our style of play didn’t change, and the guys kept working. I’m proud of them for that.”
Delfin nearly got a goal of his own, but Restrepo did well to cut off his angle near the top of the box in the 81st minute. Kwasi Donsu, after coming on as a substitute, nearly headed home a go-ahead goal in the 89th minute only to see the Austin keeper punch it away.
“I thought we dominated the game,” Switchbacks captain Jordan Burt said. “Like I said, we deserved three points, and I’m pretty disappointed not to get it.”
After two straight games at home, the Switchbacks hit the road for Saturday’s game at New Mexico United before a trip to El Paso.
Harris said the Switchbacks could possibly have Shane Malcolm and Abdul Rwatubyaye back from international duty for the road trip, but at the least, the coach might have found a duo that could work up top.
“With two now, it poses more of a threat for the opposing defense, and we’re able to shift the defense out of position,” Harris said. “It paid dividends today. One found the other, and we scored. We just gotta look to build on that moving forward.”