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Switchbacks forward Hadji Barry (10) sprints to gain possession of the ball during the Switchbacks FC home soccer game against the Real Monarchs SLC at Weidner Field in downtown Colorado Springs on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021. The Switchbacks won the game against the Real Monarchs by a score of 2-0. (Chancey Bush/ The Gazette)

Hadji Barry took two steps toward the United Soccer League Championship scoring record, and the Colorado Springs Switchbacks added three key points with a 2-1 win at Rio Grande Valley on Saturday.

Barry scored the equalizer in the 48th minute off an assist from Andre Lewis before adding the game-winner, off an assist from Deshane Beckford, in the 81st minute. After Saturday’s brace, Barry is two goals shy of tying Cameron Lancaster’s single-season scoring record of 25 goals.

Rio Grande Valley had a chance to earn a point late in Saturday’s match, but the Switchbacks successfully defended a set piece in stoppage time.

Prior to Saturday’s game, The Gazette confirmed winger Michee Ngalina will join Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC on loan for the remainder of the season. LAFC will have the option to buy. If LAFC does buy, sources told The Gazette the fee could double the United Soccer League record. With Ngalina out of the regular starting 11, Thomas Amang and Andre Lewis flanked Barry on the wings before Beckford entered the match.

Rio Grande Valley took an early lead after a giveaway following a Switchbacks throw-in. Emilio Ycaza beat Colorado Springs goalkeeper Sean Melvin and gave the Toros a lead in the 26th minute. Amang had a chance to equalize later in the first half, but Rio Grande Valley goalkeeper Tyler Deric made a one-on-one save.

Deric could not replicate the efforts as Barry scored a pair of goals from close range in the second half, giving the Switchbacks 40 points from 25 matches. The Switchbacks have seven games remaining in the regular season for Barry to break the scoring record and the club to secure its first playoff berth since 2016.

Dillon Serna, a former member of the Colorado Rapids, made his Switchbacks debut in the second half, while midfielder Zach Zandi returned to the starting lineup after missing a couple of weeks due to injury.

The Switchbacks moved into second place with the win but could drop to third, depending on San Antonio’s result at Sacramento in a late game Saturday.

Barry and the Switchbacks will have the chance to take another step forward when they return to action at home Saturday against Austin Bold, which sits in fourth place in the Mountain Division.

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