For New Mexico United, the plan to beat the Colorado Springs Switchbacks seemed clear. New Mexico filled its penalty area with players wearing their yellow jerseys when Colorado Springs was on the attack. United was content to let the Switchbacks dominate possession while Colorado Springs didn’t score.
The plan worked until the 40th minute when midfielder Jairo Henríquez kicked the ball from center field to forward Hadji Barry at the top of the 18-yard box. Barry hit a couple of defenders and fired a curved ball past the outstretched arms of United goalkeeper Alex Tambakis to score. It was everything Colorado Springs needed to win Game 2 of their homestand 1-0 in front of a home crowd at Weidner Field.
To start the game, the visitors packed the box in an effort to shut down Colorado Springs’ potent offense. To that end, Colorado Springs dominated time of possession almost 2-to-1 in the first half, leading in shooting 5-2. The Switchbacks nearly doubled New Mexico’s passes.
New Mexico pressed a little more offensively in the second half. But Colorado Springs held on to secure their second shutout in as many games.
Switchbacks defense blocks Rowdies, Jairo Henriquez gets game winner for first win in over a month
Going into the game, the Switchbacks had scored 51 goals on the year, second-most in the league, but Colorado Springs won the last two games with a single goal. The two shutouts are a notable change to the defense from the previous six games in which the club allowed 20 goals.
“After the little rut we got into, conceding a lot of goals to get two straight 1-0 wins, it says a lot about just fighting through the fighting. And now we’re back where we should be,” defender Matt Mahoney said. “This was huge, they were three points behind us. Now we part. Now we are six points (ahead). …These games are going to be 1-0 wins from now on, they’re not going to be 4-2, 4-0 games. So we have to push ourselves and we did tonight.”
Mahoney called it a team win and credited his forwards like Barry, Michee Ngalina and Elvis Amoh for getting back on defense.
Head coach Brendan Burke agreed.
“Michee, Jairo, Elvis, Hadji and Malik (Johnson) before he got hurt, I’d say we have the best four forwards in the league,” Burke said. “But also because they do the dirty work, they all do the work. dirty work. That’s what gets you through tough games, tight games like this.”
The victory secures three crucial points for the Switchbacks who re-established their control over the three seeds in the western conference of the USL Championship. Colorado Springs improved to 15-9-3.
It was also a good day for the Switchbacks in the league, with Western Conference one and two-seeded San Antonio FC and San Diego Loyal SC each losing.
Next week Phoenix Rising FC comes to Weidner Field. Phoenix shut out Colorado Springs 4-0 in July. The start is September 3 at 7 pm
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