After an early bye week, it is finally time to get ready for another match day. This Saturday, March 30th, Phoenix Rising welcomes the Colorado Springs Switchbacks to the newly named Casino Arizona Field. Last season, Phoenix came away with two regular-season victories outscoring Colorado six goals to one. Colorado has had a tumultuous couple of seasons. Last year, they finishing eleventh in Western Conference on just 39 points, which was five fewer points than the previous season. This season has gotten off to a better start for Colorado. They are currently fourth after winning two of their three games beating the LA Galaxy II and San Antonio FC. Their fast start to the season probably comes from the retooling of the squad that took place over the offseason. Colorado retained only six players from 2018 and have added some key players that hopefully will turn their year around.
Colorado Springs was able to keep hold of joint goal scorers Jordan Burt and Shane Malcolm. Last season, both scored six times in relatively the same amount of game time. Already this season Malcolm is sitting on three goals and Burt has scored once. Jordan Burt is a utility player for Colorado. Already this season is has played in the defensive midfield position as well as at right back. He will provide goals from the midfield which will relieve some pressure from the front line. The addition of Mike Seth will be important for Colorado this season as well. He has already provided two assists and seems to be linking up nicely with Malcolm. It will be important to Colorado that at least Malcolm or Seth break double-digit goals in order for Colorado to succeed this season and make the playoffs.
Colorado Springs Switchbacks offseason player acquisitions
The biggest addition to the squad was the loan of Andre Rawls from Colorado Rapids. In 2018, Colorado Springs only had two goalkeepers on the roster. While both shared minutes, the position conceded 39 goals, which left Colorado with a -3 goal difference at the end of 2018. Rawls brings some stability to the position. A player with MLS experience, Rawls last played in the USL in 2018 with Orange County. In 26 appearances, he gave up 30 goals and with 8 clean sheets. While this doesn’t sound impressive, we have to look at Orange County’s record from last season. They conceded 40 goals but scored 70. They scored a lot of goals but gave up goals to teams in the playoff positions. This season Rawls has one clean sheet and has given up one goal in two matches. I would expect to see him concede fewer goals than he has in previous seasons. One reason would be the addition of Kofi Opare. Opare joins on loan from the Colorado Rapids but brings a ton of MLS experience. He is probably best known for his time at DC United where he made 79 appearances. He is a level headed defender that operates well under pressure. He will anchor the back four for Colorado Springs while he is there.
What This Game Means To In Terms Of The Standings And Four Corners Cup
As both teams approach a game that not only affects their USL position, but also the inaugural Four Corners Cup. I would imagine some pretty familiar faces in the squads. Colorado Springs should line up in a 4-3-3. Rawls will be between the posts with a back four of (right to left) Jordan Burt, Kofi Opare, Jamal Jack, and Ismaila Jome. The midfield will consist of Jordan Schweitzer in the middle with Rony Argueta to his left and Alexander Molano to his right. Mike Seth gets the start at CF flanked by Shane Malcolm and Saeed Robinson.
Phoenix Rising will lineup in a 4-1-4-1. While this is the base formation, it really allows for some flexibility in the match. I would image Woz starts in goal. Dumbuya seems to be locked in at right back while Dia will start at left back. The center back pairing could change from the match against New Mexico United, but I was really impressed with Blackmon and Cochrane so I would expect them to start. The holding midfield role is interesting as well. We have seen Javier Perez (on loan from LAFC) and Musa starts in that position. Considering Perez might still be with LAFC, I think that Musa starts. The midfield four has been largely unchanged but with Flemmings and Lambert away with the Jamaican national team, we will see some movement. I think we will see Asante and Aguinaga retain their starting spots with the addition of Vega and Johnson. Adam Jahn will lead the line for Phoenix.
Outcome: Hard fought 1-0 win for Phoenix Rising FC.