The Switchbacks ended one era and started another in style Saturday night.
In the final game of Wolde Harris’ interim coaching stint and the final match at Weidner Field in 2019, the Switchbacks, long eliminated from postseason contention, put a dent in LA Galaxy II’s playoff hopes with a convincing 2-0 win.
“I’m very proud of the guys’ performance,” Harris said. “They put in a good shift tonight, and they got the just reward.”
After a couple of critical saves from Andre Rawls in the opening minutes, the Switchbacks moved in front in the 29th minute behind Matt Hundley’s first professional goal. Shane Malcolm started the sequence by beating a defender before playing the ball centrally to Jordan Burt who returned it to Malcolm in the attacking third. Malcolm buzzed a low cross through the box where Hundley, on the back post, had a simple finish for his long-awaited breakthrough.
“It took a little too long for me,” Hundley said. “I know I’m capable of doing better, so it was good to open the account, get it out of the way.”
About 15 minutes later, Saeed Robinson, who missed a couple of previous chances, scored another meaningful goal. It was far from his first as a professional, but it was important for the Jamaican winger to get one in his countryman’s last game in charge.
“It’s very special because it’s his last game,” Robinson said of Harris. “I wanted to score a goal for myself, and I wanted to score a goal for him and for the team.”
The Switchbacks’ defense kept the sheet clean in the final 45 minutes and the team celebrated with a lap, stopping to sign autographs and thank the Trailheads supporters’ section. The group started in song to thank Harris and later moved on to Shane Malcolm, who commandeered the megaphone to return the love.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t tell you how much we went through this season, but (I) love the fans. You guys are the reason I’m here,” Malcolm told the Trailheads. “I can’t thank you enough. I’m super emotional. … We love you guys.”
“It was awesome,” Harris added afterward, sans megaphone. “They’ve been with us all year through a tough year. They never wavered in their support for the team even when we were down.”
Harris will return to the assistant role, one he joked he knew well, for the final two road matches, while Alan Koch begins his tenure with the club. Koch watched the match and joined Harris in the coach’s trailer afterward, but the night seemed to belong to Harris and the crowd, an announced sellout.
“It feels awesome, especially being the last home game to be able to go off on a positive note with our fans,” Hundley said.
“Before the game, Wolde was definitely all hyped up. We definitely wanted to send him off on a good note. “