Switchbacks FC’s intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night serves as the starting gun in the sprint toward the restart of the United Soccer League Championship season.
The scrimmage, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. and season-ticket holders invited to attend, comes just a few days after the Switchbacks received negative coronavirus results for all the players and staff tested, which allowed the team to resume full-team training.
“We don’t have a starting lineup yet,” Switchbacks coach Alan Koch said before Friday’s training. “This is a big, big exercise to give them this chance to showcase who should be starting on the 11th.”
With some Colorado Rapids academy players expected to be used Saturday, Koch said he plans to divide his top players between two teams. The hope is that he can get most of his players to play close to 90 minutes. Midfielder Rony Argueta said he feels good physically and is mentally comfortable with all the guidelines in place – the players show up in their training gear with masks on, regularly have temperature checks and submit forms detailing any related symptoms – ahead of next week’s first match back.
“Like coach says, it’s starting to feel real now,” Argueta said. “It’s just right around the corner, so we’re all excited.”
Argueta will find out if he has 90 minutes in his legs and lungs on Saturday.
“I don’t want to say 'Yeah,’ and feel confident, but I feel good physically,” Argueta said. “So yeah, we’ll see how it goes.”
Koch said the plan is to play two 45-minute halves, like they will in a week, but added that could change if he sees guys struggling in the second half. His first concern is getting through the holiday scrimmage healthy. His second wish is a fit squad close to competing for 90 minutes, and a team starting to show a grasp for his desired tactics. Hopefully it will be close to what he saw back in the original preseason.
“We don’t have much time, so we’re going full-tilt every single day. Even tonight, we’re going to do a little bit more than we normally would do the day before the game. Even though tomorrow is our first real contest, we want to push it as much as we can, because we’re playing catch up,” Koch said. “You don’t have much time, and you want to get ready for the 11th.”
Fans attending the scrimmage are asked to keep social distance and follow other stadium guidelines which include a preference for card transactions instead of cash and the wearing of masks or facial coverings. Only clear bags will be allowed in the stadium for the scrimmage.