The first day of tryouts for Switchbacks FC showcased players from all over the world. Some grew up learning the game not far from the Pride Soccer Complex. Others came from different states, Spain, the United Kingdom, Holland, Denmark, Germany, France, El Salvador, Panama, Mexico, Ghana, Australia, and Iran. They played almost five hours of full-throttle soccer.

Head coach Steve Trittschuh said he was pleased to see all 140 players on Saturday. Unlike other tryouts with multiple cuts before the final decisions, Trittschuh invited all the players back for Sunday.

“If they had a bad day,” Trittschuh said, “they can come back and show us more, if they’re not dead and can get out of bed.”

Trittschuh had assistant Wolde Harris run the show, and he assembled 15 other coaches to help evaluate talent and give input throughout the day.

“I needed more eyes,” Trittschuh explained. “Most of these guys played professionally, so they know what to look for. And I totally trust them. Tomorrow we’ll meet after the last game and put all our notes together. There were a couple kids who I can probably offer a contract to. And there probably will be a handful that I can ask to come back in February when we get together again.”

The day started with players assigned to teams for a number of possession games on small fields, some with goalkeepers. Harris explained that “small-sided games give us a chance to see their technical abilities and decision-making in tight spaces.”

Players wore reversible jerseys with their assigned number. One coach asked a goalkeeper to put his number on the front. “Otherwise, I’ll only see your number when you’re digging the ball out of the back of the net.”

At 11:00, they jumped into 11v11 games on three fields. Some teams rested while others battled for 25-minute contests.

“I gave them a shape I wanted, a 4-2-3-1 for all the teams,” Trittschuh said. “I wanted to see how players stand out in that shape. You can get your outside backs into the attack. You can see movement from the guys up top, and you can see who wins the ball in the middle.”

Harris said the teams didn’t necessarily improve throughout the day, but he noticed one or two players starting to make connections and find a rhythm in the game.

“We’re looking at the talent level and the decision-making,” Harris said. “But we’re also looking to see who really wants it more than anyone else. A big part of our team will be commitment because we’re a new club coming new into a league. We’re looking for people who know what they’re doing with the ball and can make things happen. Also, we’re looking for mental toughness. If you can perform in the sixth game as well as you did in the first game, then that shows us something special.”

Day two will be another test. If players can return from the grueling day of games and perform just as well for the finale on Sunday, they might be wearing Switchbacks FC colors in 2015.

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