Switchbacks

The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC’s new head coach, Stephen Hogan, speaks at a press conference Wednesday at Weidner Field.

The Switchbacks have had plans for the post-Brendan Burke era since 2021, according to club president Nick Ragain. 

Unlike previous head coaches with the Switchbacks, Burke brought a staff of coaches with him. One of those was Stephen Hogan the former technical director for Colorado Springs, who will now be the club's fourth head coach in its history, the Switchbacks announced Wednesday.

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"We were talking about Stephen in 2021, just the background, and so when we brought Stephen on to staff it is with the forethought that Stephen, if all this goes well and on plan and on track, Stephen is going to be our next head coach," Ragain said. 

Hogan's contract with Colorado Springs runs through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, according to a release. 

While news of Burke's transfer came just a month before the start of the Switchbacks' preseason and days before the start of preseason training potentially signaling upheaval, Hogan calmly assured media and staff at Wednesday's press conference that the plan for the 2023 season had been laid out mere weeks after the club's loss in November's Western Conference Final. 

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Hogan, a native a Dublin, Ireland, has been working with Burke for 15 years, first as teammates at Reading United AC in Reading, Pennsylvania and then as coaching partners with Philadelphia Union. Hogan said that he and Burke have a similar approach to the game. 

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"We do have the same sort of principles in how we try and work and how we try and get to that (winning) culture," he said. "After the San Antonio game, we discussed what we needed to get in to probably get us over that next step, definitely get us back in the playoffs. But how do we get into that final? ...The experience and intelligence in that roster should push us through playoffs and hopefully to that next level. That was all planned out weeks right after that San Antonio game with (Burke) involved so just taking that and running with it with these guys."

The message for newcomers and returning athletes alike is mostly the same, Hogan said with a few minor tweaks. 

If the Switchbacks are to make another deep postseason run in 2023, they'll do so with a roster that doesn't have Hadji Barry, Michee Ngalina, Elvis Amoh, Cameron Lindley, Isaiah Foster, Jeff Caldwell and more notable players from 2022. 

But that's the way the Switchbacks operate, Ragain said. 

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"We recognize that we're not an end destination for all of our coaches and players and truly if we were then we might not be pushing late in the postseason," he said. "We know who we are. We know what it is what we're doing and so rather than be concerned or afraid to promote, the idea is kind of a next man up."

That mentality extends to the coaching staff as well and it's being noticed by players around the USL Championship.

"The player pool in soccer in whole is a small, small world. So you have someone like (incoming forward) Romario Williams who really didn't have a season last year. I just met with him, half an hour ago, and he's like ' I want what Hadji did,' " Hogan said. "Because after discussions with Hadji and players that he know, it's like if you want a chance to explode in this league, well then this is the place to be at. And to Nick's point not just for players but for us and this is proven that I'm sitting here."

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