A new era of Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC soccer was born Saturday night at Weidner Field.
The team, its seventh season, christened the new downtown stadium by drawing a 2-2 tie with Orange County SC in front of an estimated 2,200. The friendly was the final exhibition match for the Switchbacks, who finished the preseason 3-2-1.
“This felt like a regular-season game to me,” said Switchbacks defender Jordan Burt, the lone member of the club since its inaugural campaign. “When we’ve been training, we’ve had cranes in here and they’ve been finishing all the details of the stadium. But to see the lights on and the fans here, it was truly special. It brings an energy that I really love.”
The crowd, made up primarily of season ticket holders, was energetic from the onset as the Switchbacks took the field in their new away jerseys. The team mascot, “Ziggy” — a 7-foot goat — helped work the crowd into a frenzy after forward Hadji Barry scored in the fifth minute on an assist from Jose Torres for a 1-0 Switchbacks lead.
Barry scored the team’s second goal in the 52nd minute on an assist from Austin Dewing, an alum of Air Academy High School and Air Force Academy. The goal broke a 1-1 tie.
“It definitely feels good, especially being the striker for our team,” said Barry, the 13th overall pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City SC. “I want to get rolling going into the season.
“I thought we played very well, through the result does not indicate it.”
Switchbacks first-year coach Brendan Burke felt his club played better than the score reflected.
“There were a lot of bright spots, but we should have made (Orange County) pay a number of more times,” he said. “Ultimately we paid for not making them pay. I thought there were four or five goals in that game. And that’s what we want.”
Prior to this season, the Switchbacks played their home games across town at the old Weidner Field, located off Powers Boulevard.
Their new digs come with a hefty price tag of around $45 million. The stadium is at 6,035 feet above sea level, making it the highest used by an American professional soccer team.
The Switchbacks open their regular season next Saturday night in Texas at San Antonio FC.