Game day, Roots fam! Oakland Roots host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks at Laney College tonight, April 30, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. The Roots’ season has improved–unbeaten in five in the league since an 0-3 start, but they are coming off of a stressful 1-1 draw at El Paso that as easily could have been a loss as the draw the Roots got. Colorado Springs lead the Western conference 6-0-1, but have shown some vulnerability of late, with a loss to Memphis 901 at home and falling out of the USOC to a brand new League 1 team. The match tonight will be broadcast on ESPN+, and available live at 10th and 5th.
A buddy of mine is moving to Denver, and he already supports Spurs, so I knew he could be convinced to watch mediocre soccer. I suggested he check out the Switchbacks and he informed me that Colorado Springs is “where the republicans live.”
According to Wikipedia, Colorado Springs “has many features of a modern urban area.” By that, I assume they mean the defunct Nikola Tesla Experimental Station and three (3) Space Force bases/stations, as well as “U.S. Space Command,” (until it was moved in 2021).
The Colorado Springs city council voted not to allow recreational marijuana sales in the city even after the state constitution was amended to allow it, which is really everything you need to know about the city, whether you partake or not. Notable television series using the city as a setting include “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” (Bloom frantically scribbles a reminder to himself to find gifs).
Colorado Springs Switchbacks were founded in 2013 and started play in the USL in the 2015 season. The team is owned by Ragain Sports, LLC, which appears to come from money that papa Ragain made designing sports stadium lighting. Surprisingly inoffensive. The team executives are his two sons, who unfortunately definitely pay for Linkedin Premium and will know I looked at their profiles.
The Switchbacks’ website has a tab for “Club History” and the page just says “Coming soon.”
Do people call it “the ‘Springs'”? If so, do they use quotation marks? Surely the capital letter is enough. The use of 1871 on the badge is a little stolen valor-y in the soccer world, where there are teams credibly claiming 1880s dates for the founding of the clubs (and the founding of the city could be a number in the 800s, or before the Common Era). Speaking of stolen valor: the five stripes pays homage to the “5 military branches that make up our community.”
Like I said, Switchbacks started playing in 2015, and won steadily fewer games in every season until their COVID season, when they were on pace to get fewer than the 7 wins they had gotten in 2019. In the 2015 season they knocked Sounders 2 out in the first round, but fell to OKC Energy on penalties in the second round. In 2016, consistent with their steady decline, Switchbacks were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by Whitecaps 2. Pour one out for our USL Championship teams in the next life.
Switchbacks righted the ship in 2021 with a 13-10-9, led by a 25-goal season from Guinean striker Hadji Barry (if you split Hadji Barry’s season into five different players, they each would be tied for the Roots’ goals lead for 2021). Switchbacks fell 1-0 away to Orange County in the first round of the playoffs. Awful news for Orange County, who I assume will fold in the next couple years. RootsPod will try to pick up one of the Orange & Black Soccercast guys when their contract gets terminated.
|3/19||Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, California||Home||W||1||0|
|4/09||Las Vegas Lights||Away||W||3||2|
You may recall the terrible camera from the Vegas games last season. In case you thought it might have improved, it misses the first goal entirely.
Switchbacks went up early on the goal you only see on the replay, then Lights equalized on an own goal off of a Cal Jennings cross. Vegas then took the lead in the 61st on a great shot from Jennings. Switchbacks equalized in the 70th on a nifty interchange in the Lights’ box, and then a belted, low shot from Cam Lindley in the 75th gave Switchbacks a lead they would not give back.
Switchbacks hosted Memphis on April 16, and fell behind in the 43rd on a stunning shot from Aaron Molloy. In the highlights, the play-by-play guy says “Goodness me! Where did THAT come from?!” and the color commentator, discussing the same highlight, says “you could almost feel it coming.”
Phillip Goodrum then extended the lead in the 59th minute, heading home a perfect Aaron Molloy cross. Switchbacks got a consolation goal 45 seconds into stoppage time, but could not equalize, losing their perfect season. This win took Memphis to 4-1-1 on the season (they have not played since), and the Roots’ loss in Memphis is looking more reasonable (if not less frustrating).
Switchbacks bounced back with a 2-0 win over Tulsa in Tulsa.
Barry’s opener in the 12th is pure class–beat the defense to a tight angle and cannoned it at an upward angle behind the keeper. Switchbacks doubled the lead in the 39th. If you’re wondering if the rest of the highlights are worth watching, one of them is an offsides that wasn’t even controversial or particularly important.
|3/26||Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, California||Home||L||2||3|
|3/30||New Mexico United||Away||D||2||2|
|4/02||Tampa Bay Rowdies||Home||D||0||0|
|4/13||January 6 Apologists SC||Home||D||2||2|
I went over the Loudoun Game in more detail in my last preview, but here are the highlights if you want to revel in them.
Last week the Roots traveled to El Paso and brought home a point.
The Roots got off to a great start, taking the lead in the 13th minute, with Formella thundering home the failed Solignac headed clearance. The Roots were probably the better team for the first 30 minutes, but slipped a bit when Solignac ricocheted a goal in off of Danny Barbir’s face. For most of the balance of the game, El Paso was in the driver’s seat, and Benny Diaz made save after save. The Roots improved in the last 10 minutes, and the referee missed a pretty egregious jersey pull on Ottar that should have given the Roots a penalty, but it was not to be–Roots and Lokomotiv shared the points.
Players to Watch
Hadji Barry #10 – The 29-year-old Guinean forward won the Golden Boot for the USL Championship in 2021 with 25 goals. He had never come close to that kind of production, although he netted 17 for Swope Park Rangers, the predecessor to Sporting KC II, in 2018. Barry was back and forth between the Orlando City A and B teams in 2016-2017, but never managed to score in MLS. Barry is 6’2″, fast, and clinical. He only has two goals and three assists so far this season, and while I cannot bring myself to hope he won’t repeat last season, we should hope he doesn’t start that upward trajectory today.
Michee Ngalina #11 – Congolese right-winger Ngalina leads the switchbacks with three goals and two assists, picking up where he left off with 8g/8a in 2021. Ngalina was on the roster at Philadelphia Union and LAFC in the MLS, but appeared in only three matches in those three seasons.
Cameron Lindley #6 – Carmel, California-native Lindley is a consummate USL journeyman, with one season each at St. Louis, Memphis, Indy, San Antonio, and now Colorado Springs. Lindley plays in the center of midfield, and based on what I have found, is consistently solid, supporting and facilitating the offensive fireworks from the rest of Switchbacks’ forward line.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Switchbacks are good, and my concern is that their offense will get off to a hot start and run away with the game. That said, basically no one has done that to the Roots this season. I think this is a back and forth affair, with the Roots’ offense taking advantage of home field to make sure Switchbacks don’t run away. 2-2 Roots, goals from Karlsson and Enriquez.
My change in the backline is Tarek Morad coming in for Emrah Klimenta. The goal allowed against El Paso elicits a change, and I think Morad gets his first start since the red card against San Diego on April; 14. I could see a decision between Emrah and Alejandro Fuenmayor in the starting 11 as well. Joseph Nane continues to start as the CDM with Matias Fissore recovering from an injury he sustained against San Diego. Fissore could be targetting a May 7 return against OC on the road.
As for a score prediction, I’m sticking by my guess on RootsPod: 3-2 Roots with the game-winning goal scored in the last 10 minutes.
Aaron is already on his way to a wedding in Sac this weekend, and will not be contributing a written lineup or score prediction. On the pod he predicted a “tight affair” with a late opener in the 70-something by Karlsson. 1-0 Oakland.