Colorado Springs upends Arizona 3-0 in US Open Cup third round clash

Michael Rincon /
Michael Rincon /

Sometimes there isn’t much to say.

Arizona United SC assistant coach Marc Bircham was available for comment after an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, and when none of the assembled media (including yours truly) could muster an appropriate question, Coach Bircham simply said, “Yeah, we were s***. ”

It’s not an unpopular assessment of the match as a whole, but for perhaps the first 30 minutes of this one, the Firebirds had the upper hand. As has been the case so often in 2016 however, converting on that advantage was extremely elusive.

United’s number 10 Luke Rooney led the attack, finding forwards Tyler Blackwood and Long Tan in position to take on the Switchbacks’ defenders, but the final ball was always lacking. Arizona danger man Nick Costa made several of his patented runs down the left, but his crosses rarely found their mark. One of his efforts landed well at the feet of Sam Garza, who struck one-time and lifted his shot over the supporters section.

The turning point in the match came in the 38th minute, when a free kick was given to Colorado Springs outside the Arizona box. Several reports suggest that the ball had previously gone out of bounds which would have given a throw-in to Arizona. Head coach Frank Yallop’s disagreement with the officials over the call led to his ejection from the match.

The ensuing kick was misread by the entirety of the defense, and possibly the Switchbacks too, but Colorado Springs captain Luke Vercollone managed to will the bouncing ball into the Arizona net.

The second half was played more evenly, though Colorado Springs enjoyed the majority of the quality chances. A couple of ugly defensive breakdowns on the part of Arizona led to a relatively easy goal for Aaron King in the 59th minute, and a well-earned one-time shot by Vercollone in the 83rd, assisted by late substitute Mike Seth.

Arizona United is now eliminated from the 2016 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and will return to USL action on June 11 at home against Orange County Blues FC. Colorado Springs advances to the fourth round of the Open Cup, and will face Major League Soccer points leader Colorado Rapids in Denver.