When things slowed down and Wolde Harris had a chance to evaluate a 2-1 loss in his debut as Switchbacks interim coach on the Fourth of July, the ability to play out of the back became his first talking point.
Harris, after taking over last Monday ahead of a Thursday game, spent the first few days of preparation for Saturday’s 6 p.m. match against Tulsa at Weidner Field explaining what he wants from Rony Argueta and Jordan Schweitzer, the two midfielders tasked with transferring the ball from the back line up to the wingers and attackers and pivoting the point of attack.
“The focus was primarily on those two, not only providing good angles of support but also providing balance so if the ball turns over, we’re in good positions,” Harris said. “I think those guys are experienced enough to take the information with a grain of salt, take the criticism with a grain of salt.”
It’s delicate territory for the central midfielders, trying to maintain possession while advancing the ball, as one errant pass in the middle of the field or defensive third can quickly lead to a scoring opportunity for the opponent.
The good news for Harris is Argueta and Schweitzer are the team leaders in passes completed at 852 and 729, respectively, with success rates above 80%. Argueta seems to have a better idea what’s required heading into Harris’ second game, this one against a team that sits just four points ahead of the Colorado Springs club in the standings.
“We’ve been working a lot on our defensive shape and good ideas going forward with the ball in the attack,” Argueta said, “making that adjustment to what he wants us to do and his ideas.”
Harris wasn’t the only one with things to ponder over the past week. Argueta has spent a majority of his professional career playing for Steve Trittschuh, the coach that brought him back after stints in Mexico’s second division and at Fresno FC. The coaching change launched each player’s audition for the next coach, whether that’s Harris or somebody else.
“You could see that when Wolde took over. It’s a fresh start for everyone. Everyone is on a clean slate, and they can prove themselves,” Argueta said.
“When a coach comes in, he brings his players. He brings his favorite guys. That’s the way this business is, but yeah, you can always prove people wrong.”
Argueta and Schweitzer can continue to make their cases Saturday by connecting the lines and contributing to both the attack and defense. “They’re making us work now more together in a sense, a little bit more cohesive, a little bit more organized,” Argueta said. “I hope that helps the team overall, and I think it will.”
Black and Blues
Argueta, possibly the only Spanish speaker left on the team after Alex Molano’s departure, could have more responsibility Saturday should Cesar Romero return to the field. Romero picked up a minor injury at the U-20 World Cup with Honduras and suffered a setback to it in practice the past couple of weeks, but the young striker took part in Thursday’s training. Mike Seth, another forward, watched the practice in a boot after going down Wednesday. Harris said he did not know if Seth would be available but that Romero should be good to go if called upon.
Defender Jamal Jack said he’s hoping to be cleared for a return in the next week after being a noncontact participant Thursday.