I’ve been following USL PRO since childhood, and as someone who has watched several seasons, let me just say that this current season is epic! MLS and USL PRO are working more closely than ever before, and the partnership is greatly benefiting teams in both leagues.
MLS involvement is amazing, but there is another reason this season has been so exciting. The league is growing rapidly. Next season, five new teams (Austin Aztex, Saint Louis FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Tulsa Roughnecks FC, and Louisville City FC) will be competing.
I want to know what these new additions are all about. The first team I decided to investigate is Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
When I set out to research Switchbacks FC, one thing became initially clear. Fans are everything to this team, and the fans are very involved. The team is doing a great job cultivating and maintaining local interest with various activities until the start of the 2015 season. Supporters voted on the team’s name, and future season ticket holders were included in talks about the club’s logo.
When the club's logo was unveiled, the capacity limit of the auditorium the ceremony was held in was reached. I'm talking standing room only! Let's think about that for a minute. This team has no players. Before the unveiling, it had no logo. This is a club with only a name and a coach that won't play a match until 2015, and it's already filling up venues! Colorado Springs is quite obviously a fertile soccer community, not just a town someone decided to stick a team in.
One pressing question I had was: What is a switchback? According to the club's website it is “a sharp turn in a road or path as it traverses a steep incline which can be seen by striping Pikes Peak from virtually any location in Colorado Springs.”
The team was officially welcomed as a USL PRO franchise on December 5, 2013. In March of this year, Steve Trittschuh was appointed as head coach. He’s had an impressive career as both a player and a coach. Internationally, he represented the USMNT in the World Cup and the Olympics. He has also competed in MLS and the European Championship Cup. On the coaching side of things, he’s worked with the Colorado Rapids and various youth teams in Colorado.
I had the privilege of asking Steve Trittschuh a few questions, and here’s what he said:
Although no players have been signed yet, there already seems to be lots of anticipation and fan involvement surrounding the club. What about Colorado Springs makes it such a great community for soccer?
“The response from the community has been great. People are very interested in professional soccer coming to the Springs area and in the USL PRO league. Not only have we received great support from the soccer community but people outside of soccer are interested also. There have also been supporters groups being formed that will come out and give us great support when we start playing in 2015. I really look forward to making this Club grow and get the Colorado Springs community behind us and give us their support.”
Is partnership with an MLS affiliate something the club is looking to pursue?
“We are working on a partnership with an MLS Club but nothing will be finalized for awhile.”
What should fans of other teams throughout the league know about the Switchbacks?
“This is going to be a well supported Club that will be hard to play against when they come to Colorado Springs and play. We will use the altitude to our advantage and play an entertaining style of soccer.”
Is this club going to have a mascot?
“Not sure about the mascot yet.”
Having so much experience in almost every level of American soccer throughout your career, where do you see the sport in ten years both in Colorado Springs and in the country?
“I have seen soccer grow in this country year after year since I started playing professionally in 1987. There have been various leagues come and go since then but now with the stability of the MLS and a clear vision of how to develop players, I see soccer continuing to grow. I see the Switchbacks in 10 years a Club that will develop talent for the MLS and to be successful. The owner of the Switchbacks has a great vision for this Club so I only see us growing and being successful.”
With the addition of new teams and new supporter groups, next season is sure to be an exciting one.Stay tuned for similar posts about other new teams.