Colorado Springs comes into Rio Tinto having already played 23 of the 32 matches in their 2017 schedule. This more than any of the other 14 teams in the Western Conference. While the Switchbacks currently sit in a 4/5 place tie with Reno 1868 FC at 33 points, the six teams sitting 8 or less points below them in the standings all have at least 2 games in hand and two have five games in hand.
The Switchbacks also come into this match on a three game winning stream and have outscored their opponents 10 - 2 in those three matches. Three of the four goals scored against Orange County in Irvine on Tuesday were hard driven volleys from far outside the box by three different players. A week ago in the 4-1 home victory over the Portland Timbers 2 at Weidner Field, Moise Pouaty saved both penalty kicks awarded to the Timbers 2 and lost the shutout on an own goal by Cameron Bevans in the closing minutes of the match.
In short, the Switchbacks are riding high at the moment and ready to take the league leading Monarchs out to the woodshed. Scoring just 5 goals less than the Monarchs at 39, the switchbacks are lead by ex-Monarch Kevaughn Frater with 8, Mastanabal Kacher with 7, Jordan Burt with 6 and Shane Malcolm with 5.
Together with Left Back Josh Suggs, Kacher and Burt also serve as linchpins in the direct offense of the Switchbacks who can rely upon a stout defense and great support from Pouaty in goal.
The Monarchs come into this home match having been shutout in their last two matches include a frustrating 2-0 loss in Oklahoma City last Saturday in which they managed on a single shot on goal. Slipping to third place in the USL Power Rankings and yet to loss back-to-back matches this season the Monarchs will be out to make a statement of their own.
This will be the tenth meeting between the Monarchs and Switchbacks. The Monarchs 3-5-1 record overall against Colorado Springs has never seen them win a second match against the Switchbacks in a single season. Together with the 5-2 victory at Rio Tinto on May 20th, a victory Saturday would not only give them a series victory for 2017 but that second victory in a single season. At Rio Tinto the Monarchs have a 2-1-1 record al time with a goal differential of +3.
What to watch for
The Switchbacks play a very organized and efficient offense that relies upon quick short passing and maximizing the number of attacking players. They are not at all afraid to allow opponents plenty of time moving the ball around their own end of the field and midfield while positioning themselves for a quick pointed attack once they regain possession. However, rather than lobbing the ball over the top they begin to ping the ball between players and move it very quickly up field.
Sebastian Velasquez will be suspended for this game after picking up a yellow card in each of last weeks matches and reaching his fifth. The Monarchs will need to protect the ball in the midfield and continue to exploit the sides to get the ball into their opponents side of the pitch. Watch whoever the assumes the #10 role for the Monarchs and how they are able to move the ball successfully in contested areas and not just around the back of the defense.
Both sides have a great deal to play for and the match should be well worth your time and effort to be in the stands. Let hope for goal celebrations a plenty for the Monarchs as they snap the scoreless streak.
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Sparrow; Curinga, Moberg, Schmidt, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Minter, Hernandez, Haber; Hoffman
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: (4-2-3-1): Pouaty; Suggs, Phillips, McFarlane, Burt; Argueta, Tae_Seongh; Malcolm, Vercollone, Kacher; Frater
When: Saturday, August 12, 7:00 pm MDT
Where: Rio Tinto — Sandy, UT
Weather: 88 degrees, Partly Cloudy