The Colorado Springs Switchbacks hit the road, or airways, this weekend as something of a sputtering vehicle with a heck of a trip ahead.
First, the Switchbacks head to Portland, top of the United Soccer League Championship’s Western Conference, for Saturday’s 8 p.m. contest having failed to score in more than 180 minutes, dropping consecutive 2-0 matches.
Then, it’s a quick return home before taking off for Tulsa, which enters the weekend fourth in the West, for a midweek contest.
After Tulsa there’s a weekend off before a return to Weidner Field against El Paso, 17th of 18 teams in the conference through five games, May 4.
The first stop pits the club against Timbers 2, which has won four of their last five to sit atop the conference with 13 points behind a 4-1-1 record.
“They play well as a team, especially defensively,” Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh said after training Thursday before Friday’s flight. “They stay compact. They work hard, so we’ve got to be able to move the ball quicker this time and find some width and get some isolation out there.”
The Switchbacks coach described Portland’s style as similar to his team’s, with wing backs that can get into the attack, but with a slightly more direct approach.
“I think we stack up really well against them,” midfielder Jordan Schweitzer said. “I think we’re going to bring our mentality no matter where we are.”
Trittschuh said finishing has been a piece of emphasis the week of training leading up to Portland. He’s also got some new technology to help manage the workload ahead of a busy week of travel.
Most Switchbacks players donned trackers at Thursday’s training. They look like and cover the same area as sports bras but come with sensors that track distance covered and other metrics.
“It’s already given us a good gauge on how hard they’re working and stuff,” Trittschuh said.
Monitoring exertion could help with two matches in five days with some 1,500 miles in between.
Lineup tweaked vs. Timbers
The Switchbacks will be without two of their usual starters Saturday, with Saeed Robinson and Kris Reaves still on the mend.
That should clear the way as Sam Raben, a loaned player from Colorado Rapids, is expected to get his first extended minutes of the season at center back. Ibrahim Yaro will slide to right back with Jordan Burt moving back into the midfield after scoring a brace in a Switchbacks win at Portland in 2018.
“Jordan likes playing in there,” Trittschuh said.
“Shoot, he scored two goals there after I put him in there last year.”