Former Colorado Springs Switchbacks captain Luke Vercollone won’t be playing or coaching soccer competitively anytime in the immediate future after announcing his retirement Monday following 15 years as a professional, but he left the door open for a return to the local club in a different role down the road.
“I would like to coach the Switchbacks if and when that opportunity is available,” Vercollone said Tuesday, adding it might be a couple of seasons before that’s an option.
The club could look much different by then with a downtown stadium in the works and a potential affiliation with the Colorado Rapids, which is without a United Soccer League affiliate for 2019 after an agreement with Charlotte Independence expires at season’s end .
Vercollone said both of those possibilities would boost the club he spent the final four seasons of his playing career representing.
“Those two things are massive,” Vercollone said before clarifying they wouldn’t fix everything.
“Something that really hurt us the last two seasons was culture.”
Vercollone, the club’s career scoring leader and record holder for goals and assists in a season, was a finalist for league MVP in 2015 and led the club to the postseason in each of its first two seasons. The Switchbacks missed the postseason in 2017 and 2018 in a rapidly expanding USL.
In 2019, he plans to be a spectator for the expected final season at Weidner Field.
“I’m rooting for the Switchbacks,” Vercollone said. “You’ll see me at games next year.”
After considering a move to Fort Collins, Vercollone and family aren’t going anywhere. He started a job with Save the Storks, an anti-abortion nonprofit in the Springs, on Monday.
“We’re really happy to stay locally in the Springs,” Vercollone said.
A midseason hamstring pull and the drop in playing time when he returned to health, opened the door to retirement, Vercollone said, but he wasn’t sure what was next.
“It was an answer to prayer,” said Vercollone of his new job.
The decision to retire came about a month ago and allowed Vercollone’s wife, and a couple of their children, to travel to his final contest, the Oct. 10 game at Seattle Sounders II where No. 4 came on as a substitute in the 87th minute.
While Steve Trittschuh, the club’s only coach to date, may not want to see his first signee take his spot on the sideline, the coach appreciated the efforts of the club’s most decorated player.
"Luke has done so much for this club, being my first player signed, the first captain of the team, and being a finalist for player of the year. He set the tone with his hard work and competitive nature and that continues to be part of our culture," said Trittschuh. "We wish him the best and he will always be part of this organization."
The 36-year-old described his end-of-season meetings with the coaching staff and front office as “more than amicable.”
Vercollone also will use the wisdom acquired over a lengthy career through his companies, Pro Performance — a soccer specific mental training program — and Mighty Kicks, an organization that introduces children to the game, but his involvement with the Switchbacks is in the past — for now.
“I leave with great peace and great gratitude,” Vercollone said. “I’m very thankful to the club and very thankful to the city.”