Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC is finding the grass really is greener on the other side to start the 2018 season.
Whether the other side is at opposing United Soccer League stadiums or Weidner Field’s neighbor Security Service Field, coach Steve Trittschuh is tired of playing on what he feels is a sub-par surface.
“Right now, it’s not a professional field,” Trittschuh said Thursday. “This league is growing. This league is getting big, and people are seeing it on national TV, and it’s a disgrace right now.”
Trittschuh said he and assistant coach Wolde Harris took a peek at the Sky Sox field weeks ago to find a much healthier swath of grass than what’s been on display at Weidner Field the first three home games.
Security Service Field is privately owned and managed, however, while the city’s parks, recreation and cultural services department handles Weidner Field maintenance in addition to many other parks, trails and open spaces around town.
Kurt Schroeder, parks maintenance and operations officer for the city, acknowledged conversations with Switchbacks leadership about field conditions. While Schroeder expressed optimism things would improve by the time the team returns home to host Seattle on April 21, he also said a number of factors - most notably a dry winter combined with the Switchbacks playing their earliest home game to date March 17 - produced a spotty field.
“We would’ve been much better off if we would’ve had snow every other week,” Schroeder said.
“They’re playing on a field that hasn’t woken up yet.”
Schroeder said his staff top-dressed, overseeded and rolled the field during the team’s first road trip. Had they done so any sooner, Schroeder believes the field would be in even worse shape.
“Part of our game is to be able to pass the ball, and it’s very difficult. It’s not just us. I hear it from the opponent’s coach like ‘What’s going on here.’ I have no answer for them,” Trittschuh said. “Hopefully by the time we get back next week for the Seattle game, something has been done to it.”
With some luck from the weather, Schroeder, too, believes another week will yield greener grass at Weidner Field.
“We’re sensitive to the situation. We want to put the best product out there, so they can put the best product out there,” Schroeder added.
“I think by the time they step on the field the next time, it’s going to be different.”
Next at home
Switchbacks host Sounders 2 on Saturday, April 21, at 6 p.m.
Switchbacks return to Reno before swinging to Sacramento
The Switchbacks also hope to return home with a change to their point total.
The team’s first road trip to St. Louis and Swope Park netted zero points. After earning a 1-0 win over Reno 1868 in the preseason, the team is looking for a similar result Saturday.
“We played them in preseason, so we kinda know what to expect,” Switchbacks captain Josh Suggs said in a team release. “We feel confident going in.”
Reno sits near the bottom of the table with two losses and a draw after losing 1-0 to Phoenix Rising on Saturday, while the Switchbacks sit just outside the top eight with six points.
Trittschuh expects to see 1868’s 4-4-2 formation with a diamond in the midfield again, but personnel will likely change.
“The way they play, it’s pretty similar, but they have changed some players,” Trittschuh said. “They brought some guys from San Jose on a loan, so we just gotta wait and kinda see what the roster is.”
After Saturday, the team heads to Sacramento for Wednesday’s game. Traveling with a roster of 16 complicates the coach’s job, especially with midfielder Taeseong Kim one yellow card away from a one-game suspension.
“We don’t have much depth right now, and it’s difficult,” Trittschuh said. “We’ve got to manage legs. Hopefully we can score some goals, get a lead on Saturday and I can rest a few guys.”
Saturday’s 8 p.m. match will be the first Switchbacks game streamed on the new ESPN+ subscription service instead of YouTube.
New faces in the fold
While no new signings have been officially announced, there were some new faces at Thursday’s practice at Pride Soccer Complex.
Some players who will take the field for the first Colorado Pride Switchbacks U23 Premier Development League team have made their way to town. The club will compete in the PDL’s Mountain Division alongside Colorado Rapids U23, Albuquerque Sol FC, FC Tucson, and Ogden City SC.
They were welcome additions as the USL team prepared for its second road trip of the season.
“They’re all going to start coming in,” Trittschuh said.
“It helps with our numbers because at least today, I can play 11v11.”