Spring can’t come soon enough for Saeed Robinson.
The Jamaican winger/forward, returning to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC for a second consecutive season, still hasn’t embraced the cold. Coach Steve Trittschuh joked he was the one player to complain about the weather during early training sessions at a club event Wednesday to unveil the 2019 away jersey, a white Capelli kit with black stripes over the torso with a Centura Orthopedics sponsorship.
Beyond the return of warmer temperatures, Robinson seeks to regain the form he displayed at the end of last season. After tallying just one goal through the first five months of the season, he finished on a tear, starting with an 87th-minute winner against Real Monarchs on Aug. 29.
“We were preaching to Saeed all year, ‘Take guys on, be aggressive, get your shot off,’” Trittschuh recalled. “Then, finally, toward the second half of the season, he started doing that more consistently.”
He went on to score in the next two home matches before capping the season with his best effort, a curling shot from distance in the Oct. 10 season finale at Seattle that was later voted the club’s goal of the year.
“That’s how I want to start this season,” Robinson said Wednesday. “It makes me confident and happy to start this upcoming season.”
That confidence wasn’t always there in 2018. Robinson said he started the year worrying about the team as a whole instead of his individual role.
“I started playing too late,” Robinson said. “I was worried about trying to do everything to help the team win instead of just doing what I know I can do, score goals and be a better attacker.”
It started to turn around behind some additional reps with former teammates Uriel Macias and Tobenna Uzo and a conversation with assistant coach Wolde Harris, who had a long Major League Soccer career and earned 28 appearances with the Jamaican national team.
“He told me to get out of my head and start doing my thing,” Robinson recalled.
“I knew I had it in me, too.”
After spending the winter with family in New York’s bitter cold and wrapping up his offseason with a 27-hour drive back to Colorado, Robinson says there’s positivity running through the first practices of the preseason.
“It’s more positive than it was last year, in my opinion,” he said. “Not saying last year wasn’t positive, but maybe because I came in with a more positive attitude. I’m more confident this year.”
If only he could find a way to stay warm.
“I’m not ready for this,” he joked. “We need an indoor facility.”
First Rapid arrives
Sam Raben, a defender on a homegrown contract with Colorado Rapids, was on hand Wednesday. The Cherry Creek and Wake Forest alum is expected to spend most of the season with the Switchbacks but will travel with the MLS club to Las Vegas this weekend for a friendly.
“He’s one of those players that’s going to need games and time to play,” Trittschuh said. “We’ll just bring him along slowly.”
Other loans from the Rapids are still to be determined as the club is dealing with some injury concerns to goalkeeper Clint Irwin, striker Kei Kamara and outside back Sam Vines among others.
Trittschuh hopes to have a clearer picture of his roster before heading to Salt Lake for preseason contests against United Soccer League competition next week.
“I’m hoping to get a couple more guys for Salt Lake,” he said. “It’s just a matter of waiting and seeing.”
The coach added that no players from open tryouts will receive contracts. Some trialists were used in early training sessions and scrimmages to fill out numbers.
Jordan Burt will wear the captain’s armband in 2019 after last year’s captain, Josh Suggs, signed with New Mexico United in the winter.
Burt is the only member of the team who will have played in all five of the club’s seasons.
“It’s his turn to lead the team,” Trittschuh said. “I put a lot of responsibility on him.”
Burt is slotted into a spot at right back, while Ish Jome, a new arrival from Nashville SC, looks to fill Suggs’ vacated role as left back with an ability to get forward.
“I’m excited about him,” Trittschuh said. “I’ve put a little pressure on him.”
Downtown stadium still set for 2020 debut
Wednesday's event was held at The Warehouse on the south end of downtown. The lot across the street, the future site of the Switchbacks' downtown stadium, remained empty, although there was some preliminary work apparently being done.
In his opening statements, club president Nick Ragain said the plan is for the stadium to be complete in 2020. He later clarified that April or May of next year is a realistic timeline for the first game at the club's new home. The plan is to use Weidner Field to start the 2020 season.