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Why the Switchbacks and SD Loyal can provide your Fourth of July fireworks tonight

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/04/22, 1:31PM EDT


Two of the top three scoring teams in the Championship square off at Weidner Field on ESPN2

Family, food, fun and fireworks.

It’s a perfect Fourth of July.

But while you’re gathered enjoying the first three of those today, tonight the fourth could be provided by Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and San Diego Loyal SC, who square off on ESPN2 at 9 p.m. ET in what promises to be one of the best – and most important – games of the 2022 USL Championship regular season.

The reason? The Switchbacks and SD Loyal not only sit in second and third place in the Championship’s Western Conference but both have the look of serious title contenders, and their attacks are a big reason why.

The Switchbacks rank tied for third in the Championship with 34 goals this season in just 16 outings, an average of more than two goals per game this season. The hosts continue to be led by 2021 Championship MVP Hadji Barry – who claimed the league’s Golden Boot as well as season ago, and currently sits with the most goal contributions in the Championship this campaign with eight goals and six assists – and there’s also returning 22-year-old Michee Ngalina, who with seven goals and five assists is a top candidate for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award.

Colorado Springs has also added new pieces this offseason, with Elvis Amoh having bagged seven goals this season after his offseason move to serve as the club’s new No. 9. With Barry now getting to play as a true No. 10, the Switchbacks have become arguably more dangerous than a season ago when they returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 in Head Coach Brendan Burke’s first season in charge.

San Diego, meanwhile, is tied for the league lead this season with 38 goals in 17 games, also averaging above two goals per game. Led by Head Coach and United States Men’s National Team legend Landon Donovan, you’d expect the side to know a thing or two about finding the net, but this season has been a major step forward for the third-year club as it steps into the position of true title contender for the first time.

An obstacle for SD Loyal on Monday, however, will be how it deals with the absence of leading scorer Kyle Vassell, who is suspended for the contest after a red card in the club’s 2-1 win against defending title holder Orange County SC last Wednesday night. The man who looks ready to meet that challenge is SD Loyal talisman and San Diego native Alejandro Guido, who is coming off a month in which he not only recorded three goals and three assists for the side but delivered in a big way on the highlight reel.

Add players like former Championship title winner Jack Blake, clever finisher Tumi Moshobane, and speedy winger Nick Moon and you have a side that’s capable of the spectacular in the blink of an eye.

With Monday night also serving as the first meeting between the Switchbacks and SD Loyal in their histories – and potentially a preview of a playoff matchup later this year – it all adds up to a contest that should provide plenty of on-field fireworks for your Fourth of July night.

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