Colorado Springs Switchbacks played their first game of the season without a goal Wednesday at Weidner Field.
The scoreless draw against El Paso Locomotive was just the third time the Switchbacks failed to score this season with the previous two being a 3-0 defeat to San Antonio in the first match of the season and a 2-0 loss to Orange County on July 1.
Wednesday’s draw keeps the Switchbacks level with San Antonio, which has a game in hand on the Switchbacks, for second in the Mountain Division, nine points back of El Paso. Switchbacks coach Brendan Burke called El Paso arguably the best team in the United Soccer League.
“They brought the bank off the bench in this game, and we withstood it. We not only withstood it. I thought we had as clean or cleaner looks in the second half than they did,” Burke said. “It didn’t go in for us tonight, but to keep another clean sheet — two out of the last three at home — we’re starting to turn the corner in terms of grit, which is really important if you’re going to be a playoff team. We’re picking up a point at a time under really difficult circumstances tonight.”
Both teams created their best chances in the second half Wednesday.
In the 61st minute a bouncing ball fell for Sebastian Anderson, whose scissor kick caught a few bodies in the box and deflected out toward Thomas Amang. Amang tried to get as much power on his diving header as he could, but El Paso keeper Logan Ketterer scrambled and made the save.
“It was a good save. That’s football,” Amang said. “You know things happen like that. You just have to move on.”
“My god, what a save,” Burke added.
Eight minutes later, El Paso’s Aaron Gomez got free for a header inside the 6-yard box but failed to put his attempt on target.
Quality scoring chances were rare for both teams in the first half. Colorado Springs goalkeeper Sean Melvin made an early save and shut down another Locomotive attack just before halftime. Switchbacks defender Matt Mahoney, who scored Saturday, got a clean header off an early set piece but could not put his attempt on target.
El Paso recorded its 10th clean sheet, the most in the Western Conference.
“I think they have more experienced players, so they understand the game. Tonight, it was not easy. We didn’t have a lot of space. They didn’t give us a lot. It was a tight game, actually,” Amang said.
“We’re just going to move on and get ready for Saturday.”
Switchbacks winger Michee Ngalina was eligible to play after serving a two-game suspension but was not in uniform against El Paso. Burke called it a “club decision.”
The Switchbacks return to action Saturday at Rio Grande Valley. After winning one and drawing two in a three-game homestand, the Switchbacks will hit the road before hosting Austin Bold on Sept. 25.
“We took a point from every game, so now we look forward to RGV,” defender Michael Edwards said.
“Hopefully, we get three points away and get back in second place.”