Shane Malcolm is solidifying himself as the Switchbacks’ Carmen Sandiego after another selection to Guam’s national team.
Following Saturday’s 6 p.m. United Soccer League Championship match against Fresno at Weidner Field, answers to “Where in the world is Shane Malcolm?” will include Los Angeles, Bangkok, Japan, Korea, and Bhutan, a small country south of China and east of Nepal where the Matao look to boost their long-shot chances at World Cup qualification.
“I have to fly from here to LA, LA to Korea, Korea to Bangkok (Thailand), Bangkok to Bhutan,” Malcolm listed off the connecting flights. “Then the day after the game, we go Bhutan back to Bangkok, Bangkok to the Philippines, the Philippines to Guam.”
After Guam, Malcolm visits Japan, his sixth country in 13 days, before returning to the Switchbacks.
“Long, long, long haul to get back here,” Malcolm said.
The Switchbacks have a long haul to get back into playoff position, something Malcolm believes is possible. Five straight league losses have the Switchbacks at the bottom of the Western Conference with eight points, eight back of the last playoff spot entering the weekend.
“We have talent here, a lot of talent and a lot of guys with experience,” Malcolm said.
“Honestly, the group is still positive because we know that we are capable. It’s just a matter of us getting out of this hole first.”
The good spirits were on display after Friday’s practice at Pride Soccer Complex. Malcolm and midfielder Jordan Schweitzer jokingly played Rabona (back-leg) passes back and forth down the field before everyone enjoyed watching a staff member try, and fail, to settle booming punts from the Colorado Springs goalkeepers. While the mental state looked good, the physical part might be more challenging.
Including a tough Open Cup loss Wednesday, the Switchbacks completed five games between May 11 and May 29 with a small roster further limited by injury (Jamal Jack) and international duty (Cesar Hernandez at the Under-20 World Cup with Honduras) and supplemented by teenagers from the Rapids academy.
“We are a playoff team. We’re completely underperforming right now,” Malcolm admitted. “A lot of that is a lot guys are tired.”
To manage, coach Steve Trittschuh said the club might have to sit back and absorb Fresno’s direct play and look to possibly hit on the counter instead of his preferred high pressing system at home. Regardless of the style, Malcolm wants to help get the club on course before his travels resume.
“I want to see this through. I want to help us get out of it,” he said. “Of course, I’ll be cheering the guys on from abroad. I’ll be watching the games.”
When it’s time to see the world, the Jamaican-born, Florida-raised Guam international — also a creative type who records music under the pseudonym Komodo Dragon and frequently shares snapshots of his travel on Instagram — will embrace that too.
“Since I started playing with Guam in 2014, I’ve been to 32 countries,” Malcolm said. “Just getting those opportunities is one in a million, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, really.”
Academy kids on the road
The Switchbacks featured Abraham Rodriguez, Alejandro Padilla and Logan Dorsey in the Open Cup on Wednesday, but the trio will be with their Rapids academy team this weekend, further shortening the list of available players for Trittschuh.