An offseason different than any other becomes a preseason unlike any of the previous four for Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Friday.
With a new affiliation agreement with Colorado Rapids in place, the Switchbacks have 11 players signed as of Monday with more on the way.
The club is waiting to see which players will be loaned to the club from the Rapids after the MLS side’s preseason camp in Florida.
“We might know that in the next week or two,” coach Steve Trittschuh said Sunday after the Switchbacks wrapped up open tryouts at Pride Soccer Complex.
One of the players loaned is going to be a goalkeeper.
It’s expected the club will sign a few more players before the season starts, a couple of which likely will be internationals.
Three of the signings come from abroad. Jamal Jack, of Trinidad and Tobago, returns as a central defender, while new general manager Brian Crookham helped the club sign midfielder Kwasi Donsu and defender Ibrahim Yaro from Medeama SC in Ghana.
“Brian actually went to Ghana to find the two Ghanaians,” Trittschuh said, noting the club had not previously had the resources for such a trip.
Joining Jack as returners from 2018 are forwards Shane Malcolm and Saeed Robinson, Jordan Burt in defense, goalkeeper Steward Ceus and midfielder Jordan Schweitzer.
Forward Mike Seth and midfielder Rony Argueta are also back after a season or two away, and the club added Alex Molano to the midfield last week to round out the initial 11.
Schweitzer, who’s in preseason camp with the Rapids, was one of the top offseason targets.
“It was long,” Trittschuh said of the negotiations with the steady midfielder.
After being a part of MLS-affiliated United Soccer League clubs in Seattle and Orlando with mixed results, Schweitzer wanted to make sure he was comfortable with the situation before returning.
“To be able to come back here in a place where I really got to enjoy playing soccer again with some of my friends and in an area I enjoy being in, it was something couldn’t necessarily pass up, but I had to make sure that it made sense for me, for my career, for my enjoyment and happiness,” Schweitzer said at an event to announce his return earlier in January. “All of those things made sense at the end of the day and obviously I’m happy to be back.”
The affiliation agreement also played a role in Argueta’s return after a season with Fresno.
“It’s huge, because a lot of us that have been playing down in the USL strive to play in the MLS,” Argueta said at the announcement held at Jack Quinn’s. “Now that we have that affiliation, it’s something for us to look up to. It’s definitely motivating.”
The hope is the added quality from the handful of to-be-announced Rapids spending the season in the Springs, will produce a different result than 2017 and 2018 when the club missed out on the postseason after making the playoffs in each of its first two seasons.
“That’s going to be our goal, get in the playoffs this year,” Trittschuh said. “I feel if we come out and compete and guys stay together, then we’ll be fine.”
Style to stay the same
With the affiliation agreement, the question has been raised how much influence the Rapids would have on tactics. The Switchbacks’ uptempo and pressing style isn’t going anywhere, the coach said.
“The style of play is going to be my style of play,” Trittschuh said. “It’s still the way we play, but the shape may be different. That’s still to be determined, I think.”
Switchbacks get a head start
For the first time, the Switchbacks will participate in a preseason tournament. The club announced it will participate in the Wasatch Winter Cup on Friday. In addition to friendlies with Air Force and University of Denver, the club will see where it stands against Western Conference foes Reno 1868 FC and Real Monarchs FC in February.
“The college games are great, but we need (to play these) teams to see what level we’re going to be at, and that will give us a little bit more of a gauge going into the season,” Trittschuh said.
Schweitzer happy to have
Argueta on his side
Schweitzer said he had only met Argueta in passing, but he’s no stranger to his fellow midfielder’s ability on the field.
“I’m not having a fun time saying this, but the first time I met Rony was here. I was with Seattle’s second team, S2, and he dropped a bomb on us. It was like 25, 30 yards out. If you watch the film really closely, it’s me sliding, trying to stop it,” Schweitzer recalled.
“He’s got a lot of quality. I’m hoping to form a good partnership there.”
Argueta isn’t taking his spot next to Schweitzer as a given just yet.
“I feel like there aren’t any spots guaranteed for anyone. That’s why we have the preseason to see which guys are going to fit in well,” Argueta said.
“I just want to come in and just give everything I have and earn my spot.”