Let the games begin



A steady stream of press releases from the Switchbacks FC over the past few weeks shows them piecing together the core of last season’s exceptional team. Aside from losing their strong back-up keeper, Samir Badr,  who’s now plying his trade with United Soccer League team Bethlehem Steel, Pennsylvania, and one or two other fringe p layers, their staunch defense remains intact. Badr’s spot has already been filled by former USL Professional Development League goalkeeper of the year, Billy Thompson. Standing at 6’6 and with a huge kick in his arsenal, he should provide real competition to the teams starter, Devala Gorrick.

The steely Josh Phillips, fresh off his trial with the Major League Soccer’s New England Revolution, will resume his central defensive partnership with the silky JJ Greer. Last year’s winner of the Supporters Young Player of the Season Jordan Burt and utility man Nate Robinson will once again provide support in the fullback positions. They will face some very stiff competition, though, with the coming of former OC Blues left-back Josh Suggs. Suggs is a vastly experienced pro, having played extensively in the USL as well a couple of stints in the MLS. Most recently he captained OC Blues to the Western Conference title. So, in addition to playing quality, he undoubtedly brings leadership skills to the Switchbacks ranks, too.

Speaking of leadership skills, team skipper Luke Vercollone and fellow midfielders Shin Harada, Rony Argueta, Davy Armstrong and Kevin Durr have all been confirmed as returning this season. And the team's forward line will be back to full strength with Miguel Gonzalez, Aaron King, Mike Seth, Marty Maybin and Saeed Robinson all having re-signed.

In addition to player confirmations, the latest news out of the club details the Switchbacks pre-season game schedule.

This weekend's opening practice game pits them against Real Colorado, at Heritage Field, Centennial. That opener is quickly followed by away games at AFA on February 27th, CSU Pueblo on March 5th, and School of Mines in Golden on March 8th. The Switchbacks will then welcome UCCS to their turf on March 12th, and I’m sure the team will be hoping that their hometown supporters turn-up en masse to welcome them back to Fortress Sand Creek!

The Colorado tour is followed up by a whistle-stop tour of California which will take them to the Ventura County Fusion on March 15th, then on to face Josh Suggs and Billy Thompson’s old team-mates at OC Blues in Irvine on March 18th, before concluding their Golden State visit with a trip to L.A. to play Galaxy II on March 19th.

These games will undoubtedly offer some real clues as to the team shape this season, and the likely starting line-up for our opening USL game v OKC on March 26th. In addition to the new faces we know about, I’d be surprised not to see some more trialists take to the field as the coaching team continues to attempt to grow and bolster the current roster or 17 or so players. We'll have to wait and see.

Welcome back, Switchbacks!

Mark Turner is formerly of Oxford, England, but has lived in America for over 15 years, the majority of that time in Colorado. Mark enjoys playing soccer (football!), hiking and biking when the weathers good, and when the weathers rotten writing blog entries that he hopes will amuse and entertain, and co-hosting 'The Back Chat Show' on KCMJ 93.9 FM. Mark can be followed on Twitter @melchett.

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