In four matches over two seasons, Arizona United SC has taken exactly zero points from Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, its slightly younger foe to the northeast. There’s no one reason for this, but that’s probably why it’s so difficult to digest.
In May of last year, USMNT veteran and first-year head coach Steve Trittschuh led his freshman franchise into Scottsdale to do battle with an uncharacteristically Woszczynski-less Arizona squad. A defense that was poor for much of the year was simply unable to keep Luke Vercollone and his ‘mates away from the penalty box, and debutante goalkeeper Jacole Turner was not up to the heroics usually required of Woz. Down 3-0 at halftime, the Firebirds did pull back two goals, but it was much too late.
Later that month, in Colorado Springs, lingering winter weather made a muddy mess of the pitch at Switchbacks Stadium. Rarely has a game been allowed as scheduled in such an odious, dangerous state, but this one went ahead. Despite a scoreless first half, increasingly unpredictable field conditions and elevation were doubtless involved in United’s 5-0 undoing. With three of the Switchbacks’ goals coming in the final five minutes of regular time, it’s hard to say, really. It was just plain ugly.
With fresh kits and fresh faces, United returned to Colorado last month for another crack at Trittschuh’s boys, but it was usual suspects Martin Maybin and Mike Seth tallying for the hosts. The Firebirds returned to Arizona looking for answers.
They would find none, however, to prepare them for an Olimpico corner kick goal, extracurricular shenanigans, or their own suspect effort level on defense. Often unspectacular, but consistently consistent, Colorado Springs emerged victorious yet again.
Against these guys, as the saying goes, if it’s not one thing, it’s another.
After this most recent contest, even Arizona head coach Frank Yallop was a bit frustrated. The boss said, “I don’t know we just we lost to ‘em two nil earlier and then just for some reason can’t get our game together. They’re a good side, they’re solid. There’s a reason they’re top of the league or near it.”
He went on to say that good performances were needed but not seen. “Usually you need 3 or 4 guys to play well, the rest of ‘em to do okay,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really came out with a good performance and it’s no one’s fault it’s just the way it goes. It’s soccer you know. You can’t win games when you have that.”
Arizona fans best not look at the schedule for relief, unless they are ignoring cup matches. Yes, United will face Colorado Springs at least once more this year, Wednesday, June 1, in the third round of the US Open Cup in Peoria. But perhaps this is the moment of redemption, the turning point, the stepping stone, the (enter cliché here) that is needed in order to move on to a successful season, and a successful cup run.
To beat the Switchbacks, very simply, United will have to be much stronger and aggressive on defense, and much smarter on offense. Against a team as strong as this opponent, each player will need to give his all, and make no silly mistakes. A date with the top team in Major League Soccer is at stake, and I for one, would like to see Arizona in that match.