Switchbacks advance in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup
The Switchbacks shrugged off a sluggish start with two goals in 142 seconds to open the second half and bury any hopes of an upset for an inspired FC Tucson club.
"We got through it," Colorado Springs coach Steve Trittschuh said after the 2-0 victory at Weidner Field. "We needed to speed things up when we had the ball, especially in their end. I am happy with how we started the second half."
With the Wednesday night win, Colorado Springs advanced to the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup national tournament. The Switchbacks will host United Soccer League rival Oklahoma City Energy, which downed Moreno Valley (Calif.) 5-1 earlier Wednesday, at 7 p.m. May 31. The winner of that game plays at the Colorado Rapids on either June 13 or 14.
The opening goal was scored by Jungyeong Park, who weaved his way around two Tucson defenders and fired a shot inside the near post about 35 seconds into the second half.
Less than two minutes later, Kevaughn Frater turned and scored from 25 yards away for a 2-0 lead and the Switchbacks were firmly in control.
The two goals were more than enough even though FC Tucson, a member of the Tier III Premier Development League, had to be feeling good about their chances after keeping the exhibition tied through the first half.
The Tier II Switchbacks had entered the game hoping to seize control right away but the reserves, many making their pro debuts, struggled converting on the offensive end.
"(Nerves) may have played a factor," said goalkeeper Dan Jackson (four saves). "As the game went on, everyone seemed more comfortable."
The hosts created three quality opportunities in the first half, but saw one goal negated by an offsides call and two shots sail over the crossbar.
Tucson nearly led at halftime, but scoring chances for Afonso Pinheiro were stymied by defender Pascal Eboussi and a stop on a shot from 6 yards out by Jackson.
"Dan played really well," Trittschuh said. "He made two big saves in the first half that kept us in it. We played a lot of guys who normally don't get much playing time and rested guys for this weekend. I'm happy with the result and how the guys played."
The Switchbacks play at the Real Monarchs SLC at 7 p.m. Saturday in Sandy, Utah. The Switchbacks beat the Real Monarchs SLC 2-1 on April 15.