Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC sought a result like last week’s season-opening win in the club’s home opener against Sacramento Republic on Saturday at Weidner Field. Instead, the 1-0 loss was more reminiscent of last season.
While the result was the same as a handful of 2018 defeats, Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh maintained this squad is of higher quality.
“We were playing between their lines very well and breaking them down. The problem, we got in the final third again, we just couldn’t score,” Trittschuh said.
“I guess if you think about last year that was part of our game, but the quality of our game is better this year.”
The only goal came early in the second half after Switchbacks defender Jamal Jack slid in for a tackle just shy of the end line and was whistled for a foul in the box.
“There’s no reason for him to dive in there,” Trittschuh said. “The guy’s not going anywhere. It’s just a poor decision.”
Sacramento’s Cam Iwasa converted the game-winning penalty kick after goalkeeper Clint Irwin, on a short-term loan from Colorado Rapids, guessed wrong in the 57th minute.
It came after Colorado Springs winger Saeed Robinson saw his header roll just wide a little more than 20 minutes into the action.
“I thought we had them in the first half and we just let them off the hook a little bit,” the Switchbacks coach said.
The hosts also had quality chances to equalize after Sacramento moved in front. Ish Jome consistently found space down the left side and played crosses into the box in the final 30 minutes, and the best late chance came when Shane Malcolm, last week’s hat trick hero, played a grounded pass for Matt Hundley, who appeared to have a clean look at goal until a Sacramento defender slid in for a crucial deflection in stoppage time.
“As the game went on, almost after they scored that goal, which is unfortunate, we started to play a bit more,” Jordan Schweitzer said.
“Moving forward, we need to make sure that’s the mentality before we get scored on.”
After missing last week as a precaution, Schweitzer returned Saturday and played the full 90 minutes. It was one of a handful of tweaks for the Switchbacks after soundly beating LA Galaxy II, 4-1, a week prior.
In addition to Irwin, central defender Kofi Opare came down from the Rapids for the game. With the plan for Opare only to get a little more than an hour, one of the Switchbacks’ three subs was decided before the match started.
“That’s part of our affiliation,” Trittschuh said. “It’s not the best that you have to burn a sub on a center back, but after that, when we did go to three in the back, we started to take the game over again. Just the final product wasn’t there.”
Additionally, Jordan Burt moved to right back with Schweitzer slotting into the midfield trio with Alex Molano and Rony Argueta.
With the team unable to practice on grass in the days leading up to the match due to the “bomb cyclone” and Opare's and Irwin’s loans announced Friday, there was a lot for the club to deal with on short notice, but that’s the new reality.
“It’s a little bit difficult but it’s something we know we’re going to have to manage this year. We have the guys and we have the group to be able to handle that,” Schweitzer said.
“Really good learning experience for us moving forward the rest of the year.”