Wednesday’s match at Seattle Sounders 2 will be Switchbacks FC’s 2018 finale and the third game the local club has only pride and future prospects to play for, but that could be changing.
The United Soccer League’s rebranding and restructuring will eventually make promotion and relegation possible, a system that would see the top teams from lower divisions move up and replace the bottom teams from the tier above at season’s end.
It’s a system Colorado Springs forward Marty Maybin knows well after growing up in Northern Ireland and playing for Carrick Rangers in the Northern Ireland Football League’s top flight last season before returning to the Switchbacks after the club was relegated.
“I think over here, soccer is more business oriented where Europe, other places like that, it’s more results based,” Maybin said. “So if relegation and promotion is in place, there’s a little bit more added incentive for everybody. I think it would make the whole league in general more competitive.”
Switchbacks manager Steve Trittschuh, who plans to return to the club for 2019 given no drastic changes, sounds more content with the current system where the club is secure in the USL’s top division.
“Promotion and relegation really changes a lot, but right now, we would be always be fighting (to avoid) relegation,” Trittschuh said. “That’s the way we’re set up with our resources. It would be frustrating every year to be in that position where you’re always looking to just stay up instead of challenging for a playoff spot or challenging for a championship.”
The system would add some intrigue to matches like Wednesday’s. Seattle sits second from the bottom of the 17-team Western Conference, while the Switchbacks are 12th.
While it might seem logical for the players take it easy in a finale with little of consequence on the line, Maybin doesn’t want to see that.
“We signed up for this season. We’re professionals,” Maybin said. “We have to give 100 percent to the last game, whether we we’ve been out (since) two months ago, a month ago or whether we’re still playing for it.”
If a spirited short-sided scrimmage Monday was any indication, effort isn’t the issue.
“Guys are playing for jobs whether it’s here or somewhere else,” Trittschuh said. “I have not seen a letdown in (effort) at all. It just really comes down to quality of our decisions on the field and being able to execute.”
Since being eliminated from the playoffs, the club beat Real Monarchs, fourth in the west, 2-0, behind a goal from Maybin, before Friday’s 3-0 loss to an eliminated Fresno squad, both on the road.
“We have to finish the season on a positive note based on everything that’s happened previously,” Maybin said.
“Going from the Monarchs to the Fresno game, perfectly sums up our season. We got a good win, I don’t know if we got comfortable or lazy or what it is. If you’re having a bad game, the least you can do is give 100 percent, and we didn’t do that on Saturday.”