First-year Switchbacks Ibrahim Yaro and Kwasi Donsu have shared quite a few experiences in the last couple of years, and that should continue Saturday when their new club hosts Reno.
Both Yaro, a defender, and Donsu, an attacking midfielder, have spent time with Ghana’s under-23 national team. Both joined the local United Soccer League Championship club from Medeama SC, moves that were announced in a joint press release in early January, after new general manager Brian Crookham visited Ghana on a scouting trip. They’re roommates in Colorado Springs and friends for more than five years, according to Donsu.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, Yaro and Donsu are expected to make their first start at Weidner Field.
“I think it will be easier for me to play with Ibrahim,” Donsu said after Friday’s training session at Weidner Field.
“We played on the same club in Ghana and now we are here playing on the same team in the U.S.”
Yaro got his first start in the season opener at LA Galaxy II when Jordan Burt was thrust into the midfield. Donsu came on as a substitute in the 4-0 season-opening win and made a second appearance in last week’s 2-0 loss at Orange County.
His activity last week will likely lead to a promotion into Saturday’s starters.
“Donsu’s going to add a little bit of energy, which he showed when he came on in OC last weekend,” Switchbacks coach Steve Trittschuh said. “I expect a lot from him.”
Trittschuh said the Switchbacks created four good chances in a 2-0 loss last week, two of which belonged to Donsu, who came on as a substitute in the 67th minute.
Some four minutes later, Donsu got on the end of a crafty Alex Molano through ball only to see his shot from close range saved by the Orange County keeper. In the 88th minute, he created space in the box with his first touch but saw his shot trickle wide of the far post.
“I get two chances. I couldn’t make it, but I know it’s a chance,” Donsu said. “To me, keep on working on my training and I know it will come.”
Yaro, who’s featured more as a right back in the USL, will move into the center with Kris Reaves likely to miss the game with an injury sustained last week. The Switchbacks coach is confident sliding Yaro inside, considering that’s where he primarily played in Ghana.
“He’s more comfortable in there,” Trittschuh said. “He played there in preseason some for us and did fine.”
Part of the Switchbacks’ preseason featured a 4-1 win over Reno in the Wasatch Winter Cup. A lot has happened since.
Reno sits 12th in the Western Conference with six points through five matches. After last week’s loss, the Switchbacks enter Saturday with seven points through five matches.
“We played too slow and we didn’t press them with intensity last weekend,” Trittschuh said. “We’re making a few changes, and I think the players we’ve got in there will do it.”