The Colorado Springs Switchbacks rode a 5th minute Aaron King goal to a 1-0 victory over USL rivals Real Monarchs SLC at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday night. Similar to their Second Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup victory over Harpo’s FC last week, the Switchbacks wasted no time taking the early lead. Center back Josh Phillips sent a well-timed through ball to King, who outpaced defenders and pushed a right-footed finish past goalkeeper Eric Osswald.
The remaining 85 minutes of play — separated by a 90-minute lightning delay at halftime — featured constant attacks from Monarchs forwards Emery Welshman, Max Rauhofer, and Ricardo Velazco. Velazco finished with four of his seven shots on-goal for the night.
Monarchs head coach Freddy Juarez praised his defenders and attackers after the game.
“We asked them to up the tempo, to be brave,” Juarez said, “to be daring and get forward and not be afraid to make mistakes.”
With the game still scoreless late into the second half, the hosts continued to attack and held virtually all of the possession.
“In the second half, we obviously defended too much. We’ve got to do a better job holding onto the ball,” admitted Switchbacks head coach Steve Trittschuh after the game. “In the end, we’re lucky to get out of here with a win.”
Welshman found himself marked by two Switchbacks defenders for much of the night, yet he continued to create offensive opportunities with Rauhofer and Velazco.
According to Monarchs defender Danilo Acosta, “the coach told us after the first half to try from outside the 18 because it was wet. You never know. A lucky shot might go in.”
With five minutes of stoppage time and plenty of momentum, it appeared inevitable that the Monarchs would equalize. Velazco hit a one-touch connection near the penalty mark, wide right. Welshman dribbled past multiple defenders, only to watch his chip float inches from the goalpost. Rauhofer’s last shot slammed the underside on the crossbar and bounced into Switchbacks goalkeeper Samir Badr’s arms.
The visitors held on for the shutout. They’ll travel to Los Angeles for a league game against Los Dos (LA Galaxy 2) on Friday, May 29. On June 16, the team from Colorado Springs will head 80 miles north to face the Colorado Rapids of MLS, their more established in-state neighbors, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the Fourth Round of the tournament.
Patrick Shea of Current of Colorado provided the video and contributed to this report.
HIGHLIGHTS: COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS AT REAL MONARCHS