Although the mere presence of the word Colorado in their name serves to call the RSL - Rapids rivalry to mind, the Switchbacks have never had any affiliation with their MLS neighbors to the north. Ever since the USL first announced the foundation of the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in 2013, talk has swirled around the possibility of a Colorado Rapids affiliation, but it has never came to fruition.
Once the MLS and USL began their joint developmental plans, the Rapids affiliated with the Charlotte Independence despite the short distance between Denver and Colorado Springs. The Switchbacks, under Team President Nick Ragain, made it clear from the beginning that they welcomed any collaboration with the Rapids, telling the Denver Post in May 2014, “We’re having discussions with them and we’re both trying to figure out what this looks like. Whether it’s a local partnership, or whether it’s something else. All that hasn’t been worked out.” Rapids President Tim Hinchey, however, projected a bit more frosty tone, saying, “We have no relationship with that club.”
Although both Colorado Springs and the Monarchs entered the league for the 2015 season, the independent Switchbacks finished third in the Western Conference in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons easily qualifying for the playoffs in each. Because of their proximity, the Monarchs and Switchbacks played 4 league matches in 2015 and 3 more in 2016. The Switchbacks hold the face-to-face lead with 4 wins against only 2 losses and a single draw. They also defeated the Monarchs in a US Open Cup match in 2015. At Weidner Field in Colorado Springs the Monarchs have a single victory and 3 losses in their four league matches.
What to watch for
The Switchbacks have struggled early in the 2017 season and come into this match with a record of 1-2-1 and a goal differential of +1. However, their sole victory came as the result of a 3-0 forfeit imposed by USL after Tulsa was found to have used an ineligible player in their 4-1 victory on the field. Aaron King, Mastanabal Kacher, and Chris James each have a single goal for the Switchbacks.
At about 6,500’ in elevation, Weidner Field is the highest of any stadium in use by US professional teams. While the Monarchs come in well rested, the Switchbacks played in Edinburg, Texas on Wednesday night against the Rio Grande Valley losing 3-1. With teams limited to three substitutions, expect the Monarchs to come on fast and furious hoping to get an earlier lead before elevation and tired legs become an issue.
In most of their matches this year the Switchbacks have relied on hard-nosed defense and with a counter attacking offense. After four games, Colorado Springs is tied for the lead in yellow cards with 8 (including two by former Monarch Kevaughn Frater) and high in the number of fouls. An early indication of which way the wind blows should be how well the Monarchs are able to link passes together and create offensive chances in the first 20–25 minutes of the game.
Real Monarchs SLC : (4-2-3-1) Fernandez; Curinga, Moberg, Orozco, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Brody, Velasquez, Minter; Hoffman
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: (4-3-3): Jackson; Suggs, Phillips, Eboussi, Burt; James, Argueta, Kim; Malcolm, King, Karcher
When: Saturday, April 15, 6 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Where: Weidner Field — Colorado Springs, Colorado
Weather: 63 degrees, Partly Cloudy