USL Championship - Rio Grande Valley FC Toros at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Oct 16, 2021; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC midfielder Jose Torres (7) and Rio Grande Valley FC Toros midfielder Emilio Ycaza (30) battle for the ball in the first half at Weidner Field. Credit: Isaiah J. Downing/Switchbacks FC

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks will return to the USL playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season Saturday night when they travel to Orange County SC for the Western Conference quarterfinal.

The game is set for an 8 p.m. start and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Xtra Sports 1300 AM Radio and on The announcer for the contest will be XTRA Sports' Ryan Kaufman who caught up with Switchbacks head coach Brendan Burke Thursday. 

Burke lauded the Colorado Springs community for the energy fans brought to newly minted Weidner Field all year and told Kaufman he believed it was a precursor for things to come. 

Saturday represents a clean slate for the Switchbacks as they put recent hardships behind them.

Colorado Springs finished the season 13-9-10 good enough for third place in the Mountain Division of the league's Western Conference. The Switchbacks battled to the end for second place which would have granted them a home playoff game. The club fell just short of that goal when they lost to San Antonio FC last week. 

Burke told Kaufman that the season has many peaks and valleys but that they will need to be in their best form against Orange County. 

The last time Colorado Springs played Orange County SC was July 1, an 0-2 home loss. At the end of the month, the Switchbacks went into one of the aforementioned peaks of the season, winning 3-1 at Loudoun United FC July 31. Colorado Springs went on a tear in August dropping just one of six contests and scoring wins of 4-2 against Hartford Athletic, 5-2 against Rio Grande Valley FC and 4-1 against Austin Bold FC. 

The club finished with 60 goals on the season, a franchise record. 25 of those scores came from star forward Hadji Barry who tied the USL Championship record for most goals in a single season. Barry tied the record with three games left to go on the season but couldn't find the 26th goal. 

Burke told Kaufman that the team, the staff, everyone wanted that record badly for Barry and that in addition to the Golden Boot, which the league awarded Barry Monday, he can probably expect to win the league's MVP award for a spectacular season. However, the club is now focused on Saturday as a one and done situation, he told Kaufman.

"It's time to stand up and fight," he said. 

The winner of Saturday night's contest will go on to face either the El Paso Locomotive or the Oakland Roots in the conference semifinals. Trailheads Supporters Group, the independent supporters group for the Switchbacks will be hosting a watch party at Jack Quinn's pub downtown Saturday at 8 p.m.

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