On Tuesday night Coach Martin Schmidt’s Mainz squad took on the Colorado Springs Switchbacks at the Switchbacks Stadium, and although the Colorado side put forth a noble effort, it was mostly one-way traffic as Mainz cruised to a 6-0 win over their hosts before a crowd of over 2,000.
Mainz looked good in their white kit as they lined up for the German and American national anthems with their Colorado counterparts, and the 05ers looked even better three minutes later when Pablo de Blasis scored an early goal. Switchbacks goalkeeper Devala Gorrick had already made one good save but couldn’t stop the Argentine.
The score remained 1-0 until about five minutes before halftime when newcomer Gerrit Holtmann, signed from Eintracht Braunschweig, got a goal of his own, and then Holtmann linked up with yet another Mainz newcomer, former Galatasaray midfielder Jose Rodriguez, to give Christian Clemens an easy goal right at the end of injury time.
The second half saw more Mainz goals after many of the German’s starting XI were subbed off at halftime or shortly afterwards. JaIro Samperio scored just six minutes after intermission, and later the Spaniard set up Besar Halimi for Mainz 5th goal. Everyone’s favorite Colombian, Jhon Cordoba, finished off the scoring for Martin Schmidt’s side as captain Stefan Bell got to lift the Freedom Cup awarded to the winner of the international friendl by event organizer Justin Ros.
The Silverbacks play in the USL PRO league, the 3rd division of professional soccer in the United States and Canada, consisting of 29 clubs. Some of the USL PRO are reserve squads of MLS clubs, while other clubs in the league, like the Switchbacks, are independent. The Switchbacks have already played 16 league games and lost only five times, good for 4th place in the USL PRO Western Conference on 27 points. The Colorado Springs club is in its second year of existence and are coached by former USMNT defender Steve Trittschuh, who earned 37 caps for the U.S. between 1987 and 1995.
Although the Switchbacks’ squad is mostly peopled by young players a year or two out of college and just into their professional careers, there are older veterans on the team. Additionally,there are Switchbacks players who have training experience in Germany. Defender/midfielder Kevin Durr, German born, played in the youth systems of both Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen before playing at the USAF Academy. Goalkeeper Gorrick, who made several quality saves Tuesday night, also spent time at the Leverkusen youth academy and has played professionally in Thailand, Puerto Rico and Sweden. Although Mainz had a big edge in technical skill and experience, the Switchbacks had their moments despite playing a league match on the weekend and provided good preseason competition for the visitors from Germany.
Honestly, I did more schmoozing than watching the match, but Daniel Brosinski, barreling up the left flank to provide real danger, was among the many 05ers who turned in strong performances. Veteran goalkeeper (and birthday boy) Gianluca Curci played the first half, while youngster Jannik Huth was between the posts in the second half, and both looked like quality backup keepers for the upcoming season. There were a few shaky moments for the 05ers but Martin Schmidt’s boys looked pacy, confident and capable of fine things in 2016/2017.
A bigger challenge lies ahead for Mainz Wednesday evening as the 05ers face Mexican side UDG Leones Negros. The Ascenso MX side (Mexico’s 2nd division) begin their league season this weekend, so the club will be primed and fit enough to knock off a Europa League club from Germany. Tickets are still available for the match at the USAF Academy soccer stadium, and the match will be streamed on ESPN 3 and televised on ESPN Deportes.
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