Sacramento Republic v. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Preview
Sacramento Republic FC have been on fire in the month of June, hoping to bring that same run of form into Friday’s July 1st matchup in Colorado Springs against Switchbacks FC.
The Quails are riding a five-match win streak going into this week’s match, most recently mounting a dramatic second half victory in Monterey last Saturday after Maalique Foster scored a brace in three minutes to flip the tie entirely. The lads were exhausted after a three-match week that saw them see off the LA Galaxy organization twice, and with heavy legs and hope fleeting, head coach Mark Briggs needed a spark in the second half, turning to his No.99 to get the job done.
“On the bench you could see we needed some sort of spark, we needed some sort of penetration in behind. And that’s Maalique in a nutshell,” Briggs said about Saturday’s Man of the Match. “To get on, score two and nearly get his hat-trick was a big thing for the team and a big thing for Maalique as well.”
Aside from Foster, the Republic have been sharp all over the pitch thanks to a bit of good health and a consistent run of form, catapulting them into third place in the western conference standings, something the team didn’t have earlier in the season.
“I think it’s just to keep the momentum that we have. Like I said, the togetherness in the squad has got us this far and we believe in each other’s quality,” Jack Gurr said Wednesday. “So I think it’s just stick together, do what we’ve been doing, and hopefully keep winning games…”
While the Switchbacks are currently on a two-match losing streak after dropping points to San Antonio and Hartford in the last seven days, the No.2-ranked team in the western conference shouldn’t be taken lightly. They have an abundance of goalscoring options in the final third as three players currently rank inside the top 25 for goals in the USL, setting up for a real showdown in Colorado Springs.
“We’re facing a very, very good team, coached very well by Brendan [Burke],” Briggs said. “Attacking, they’re very sharp, they’ve got dangerous players all over the field that can score from anywhere. So we’ve got to be defensively solid and we’ve got to understand how we can exploit some of their weaknesses.”
But while Sacramento is focusing on their opponent’s weaknesses, they could also be at a disadvantage come Friday night as star midfielder Keko Gontán is still dealing with the pulled hamstring he suffered in the U.S. Open Cup win against LA Galaxy. Sources confirmed that Keko is taking part in conditioning drills but the club is taking being cautious with the Spaniard, hoping it won’t lead to further injury down the line.
Going on the road a man down is tough enough but the Colorado atmosphere could also prove troublesome for the Republic as the high altitude is always a factor in sports. But Briggs has a gameplay for just this scenario, having coached in Salt Lake before coming to Sacramento.
“I’m fortunate that I was at Real Salt Lake. We played at altitude and part of our tactics was utilizing the altitude. So I’ll explain that to the guys before the game, little things that they can do to get with the altitude as early as possible,” Briggs said.
Although coach sees it as a challenge, Gurr and the players don’t, taking into account the Sacramento heat that has fortified their will to win this season.
“It might be a little bit tougher over there but we play in 100-degree heat over here,” Gurr stated emphatically. “So it’s a factor, but it’s the same football team. So it’s not going to be an excuse if things don’t go our way.”
Additionally, the Englishman believes the Quails have a target on their backs after making a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup. And given the magnitude of a six-point match between the second and third placed teams, Gurr knows the boys will need to give it there all to make a deep run in the USL playoffs as well.
“They’re a top team, they’re a very good team and they’ll be wanting to [beat us] as well. So [it] probably adds a little bit more to the game to be honest, because they’ll want to turn us over…with the Open Cup and the run we’ve been going, we’ve probably got a target on our back now,” Gurr said. So everyone wants to beat us and it’s down to us to go over there and turn them over. Because if we want to win everything at the end of the year, we’re gonna have to beat the best teams.”
Kickoff from Weidner Field is set for 6:00 P.M. PST. The match will be broadcast live on Antenna TV 40.2, FOX40.com and the FOX40 App and streaming on ESPN+.