Before the Colorado Springs Switchbacks split up into black and gray squads for Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Weidner Field, players and coaches were united.
Players and coaches stood and locked arms during the national anthem on the Fourth of July. After the anthem, most players kneeled around the center circle and observed a moment of silence to recognize victims of racial injustices.
“I just think it’s important to try to honor all parties,” Jordan Burt said. “Obviously, we’ve got Austin Dewing who served in the Air Force, and we wanted to honor him. Everyone loves our country, but we also love our Black teammates, so we wanted to do something for them and show unity and be an ally or advocate for them, too.”
The black squad occupied the home side of the scoreboard and featured a near replica of the March 7 starting 11 at Oklahoma City. The gray squad, which won 2-0, featured a handful of Switchbacks players and was rounded out by Colorado Rapids academy players.
“We’ve all got something to prove,” said Will Vint, a midfielder on the gray squad who’s on loan from the Rapids. “We’re all fighting to get minutes and trying to get in the starting 11, but I think we all did a really good job showing ourselves.”
Vint captured the moment of the match when he sent a set piece from the left side over the wall and beyond the reach of black goalkeeper Sean Melvin.
“I didn’t even see it hit the back of the net, to be honest,” Vint said, noting he was already on his way to celebrate. “It was just one of those perfect hits.”
The gray squad led 1-0 after 45 minutes, as Luke Ferreira put a penalty kick past Melvin midway through the opening half. The black squad created a couple of chances over the remainder of the half, but Abraham Rodriguez came up with a few saves and was bailed out by the crossbar after an Aidan Daniels shot. Rodriguez kept his clean sheet with a few big saves in the final minutes, as well.
“It just shows that energy and effort go a long way,” Burt said. “The younger kids did a great job tonight. It was good to get 90 minutes of fitness both ways, but we learned something tonight, which is good, I think, going into next weekend.”
The scrimmage served as a tuneup for Saturday’s return to United Soccer League Championship action. New Mexico United is scheduled to visit Weidner Field for the clubs’ first official competition since March. Koch said some players on the black squad will need a good week of training to keep their spots.
“I feel our better players tonight were kind of going through the motions, and we don’t have any time to go through the motions,” Koch said.