COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC earned its eighth victory in nine league games to start the 2022 season but had to withstand a strong late comeback from Rio Grande Valley FC in a 3-2 win at Weidner Field on Thursday night.
The Switchbacks had an early chance in the eighth minute when a through-ball by Hadji Barry found Michee Ngalina cutting into the penalty area, and after Ngalina was challenged he laid a pass back to Zach Zandi, whose shot was smothered by Toros goalkeeper Tyler Deric. Neither side was able to create much in the way of clear-cut opportunities for much of the first half, though, until Colorado Springs broke the deadlock two minutes before the halftime break when a pass by Barry inside the penalty area caromed off a defender and sat up nicely for Elvis Amoh, who produced a turning shot from 14 yards that found the bottom-left corner of the net.
The hosts doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half as off a corner kick from the left the Switchbacks went short to Zandi, whose angled cross eluded the runners in the penalty area and picked out the right corner of the net. Colorado Springs then added a third in the 64th minute as Johnson picked up possession off a half-cleared corner kick beyond the top-right edge of the penalty area and sped into the box before centering, where Toros defender Luka Malesevic turned the ball into his own net under pressure from Matt Mahoney.
The Toros had a chance to pull a goal back with 15 minutes to go after the Switchbacks’ Kharlton Belmar was whistled for a handball inside the penalty area, only for Emilio Ycaza’s shot to ring off the right post and away. A minute later, however, Frank Nodarse headed home off a corner kick to give the visitors hope of a comeback. Three minutes later a second corner kick – again delivered by Isidro Martinez – was headed home in similar fashion by Wahab Ackwei into the left corner of the net.
Colorado Springs was then reduced to 10 men with nine minutes to go when Tristan Hodge was sent off for denying a potential breakaway for Toros forward Frank Lopez. The visitors then almost grabbed an equalizer in stoppage time off another corner kick from the right as Nodarse rose highest but sent his header into the arms of Colorado Springs goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell. That proved to be the final chance for the Toros, though, as the Switchbacks held on for victory.
USLChampionship.com Player of the Match
Cam Lindley, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Lindley had another solid performance in midfield for the hosts, recording one assist while completing 38 of 51 passes and winning 5 of 7 duels in the win.
COS – Elvis Amoh 43’
COS – Zach Zandi (Cam Lindley) 52’
COS – Luka Malesevic (Own Goal) 64’
RGV – Frank Nodarse (Isidro Martinez) 76’
RGV – Wahab Ackwei (Isidro Martinez) 79’