Hartford Athletic was outstanding from start to finish and secured a 2-0 win against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. The team powered through short rest and multiple abrupt exits within the coaching staff, displaying a complete effort on the pitch while coming away with a much needed three points in front of the Trinity Health Stadium faithful.
The home side came out of the tunnel with a vengeance, dominating the possession percentage numbers for the opening 20 minutes of the game. Andre Lewis had a fantastic showing and got his night going early with a nice feed to Prince Saydee, who then found a streaking Joel Johnson in the box looking for goal. The Spaniard lost control of the ball out of play, but the buildup to the goal was an encouraging sign that the green and blue were knocking on the door of a conversion. Saydee was involved once again on a dangerous chance for goal with a left footed stripe from just outside the box in the 24th minute that was corralled by Colorado goalie Christian Herrera. Former Athletic goalie Jeff Caldwell suited up for the Switchbacks but did not enter the game.
Colorado forward Hadji Barry, fresh off of the highest single season goal scoring total in USL Championship history in 2021, sneaked behind the green and blue’s backline for a point blank try in extra time of the first half. He rang his shot off the crossbar, and Hartford caught a major break to keep the game level at 0-0 after 45 minutes of play.
Both teams went punch for punch to open up the second half but neither side was rewarded for their efforts. Lewis delivered another beautiful cross from the right side of the field looking to connect with Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. with a flying header. The fans geared up to erupt in exuberance, but the 2021 Olympian’s try went over the bar resulting in a goal kick for Colorado. Hartford attempted 12 shots on goal through 55 minutes, which one upped their season average of 11.1 through their first 15 games.
Making his third consecutive start in goal, Yannik Oettl wasn’t on the receiving end of many threatening chances for the bulk of the game, but his hands were finally tested on a shot from Michee Ngalina in the 67th minute. The German keeper easily denied the chance from Colorado’s most potent goal scorer this season and every other attempted try on the night from the opposing side, securing his second clean sheet of the season.
A major opportunity brewed in the 74th minute after green and blue forward Danny Barrera found Ariel Martinez down the field, who had just entered as a substitute. Martinez flicked a pass onto Rashawn Dally, another second half sub, and Dally returned the favor back to Martinez. The Cuban forward one timed his right footed shot past a diving Herrera, breaking open the scoreless tie.
The Green and Blue doubled their lead on a fantastically executed set piece started by a Conor McGlynn pass to Ash Apollon, another second half sub. The Haitian defender bent his left footed cross to Lewis in the box, who hit his header past Herrera to take a commanding 2-0 advantage. Lewis, who played for the Switchbacks previously for two years, immediately dropped to his knees with joy and celebrated with his teammates.
Hartford heads to the Motor City for a matchup with Detroit City FC next Wednesday, July 6th at Keyworth Stadium, looking to build upon their new found momentum and continue their quest to fight back into the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Shots (On-Target): 17 Hartford (4) – Colorado 10 (2)
Corners: Hartford 6 – Colorado 2
Fouls: Hartford 9 – Colorado 13
Offsides: Hartford 8 – Colorado 3
Possession: Hartford 49.3% – Colorado 50.7%
Passing Accuracy: Hartford 79.6% – Colorado 81%
Saves: Hartford 2 – Colorado 2
74’ – Martinez (Dally)
79’ – Lewis (Apollon)
23’ – Boudadi (Yellow)
23’ – Adewole (Yellow)
38’ – Johnson (Yellow)
45’ – Saydee (Yellow)
60’ – McGlynn (Yellow)
78’ – Ockford (Yellow)
HARTFORD ATHLETIC STARTING LINEUP:
13 (GK) Yannik Oettl, 2 (DF) Younes Boudadi, 5 (DF) Tom Brewitt, 23 (DF) Modou Jadama, 30 (MF) Joel Johnson (A. Martinez, 71’) 10 (MF) Danny Barrera, 11 (MF) Luka Prpa (P. Vassell, 95’); 28 (MF) Conor McGlynn, 77 (MF) Andre Lewis, 7 (FW) Prince Saydee (A. Apollon, 66’); 9 (FW) Juan Carlos Obregón Jr. (Dally, 71’)
COLORADO SPRINGS SWITCHBACKS FC STARTING LINEUP:
30 (GK) Christian Herrera, 5 (DF) Matt Mahoney, 15 (DF) Jimmy Ockford, 2 (DF) Tobi Adewole, 17 (MF) Issa Rayyan (M. Johnson, 63’); 13 (MF) Stevie Echevarria, 16 (MF) Beverly Makangila, 10 (MF) Hadji Barry, 33 (MF) Isaiah Foster, 11 (FW) Michee Ngalina, 90 (FW) Kharlton Belmar (Amoh, 63’)