Switchbacks FC has signed forward Marco Rios (center) to his first pro contract after the 17-year-old scored two goals in five appearances as a USL Academy signing this past season. | Photo courtesy Isaiah J. Downing / Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC announced on Friday that the club had signed 17-year-old forward Marco Rios, making him the first USL Academy player to earn a professional contract with Switchbacks FC. The transaction is pending league and federation approval.
“I’m very excited to officially join the Switchbacks for the 2024 season. This is truly a dream come true! This is a huge milestone in my career,” said Rios. "What a great family of guys to be around and can't wait to represent [the city]. It’s been a journey to get here but this is only the beginning of a great story.”
A native of Pueblo, Colorado, Rios made five appearances in the USL Championship as a USL Academy signing the Switchbacks in the 2023 season. He recorded a pair of goals, including a late equalizer in the side’s 1-1 draw against San Antonio FC on September 9 at Weidner field, while posting an 85.7 percent passing accuracy rate. Rios also started for the side in the Second Round of the 2023 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, recording one assist against USL League One club Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC.
“Marco has worked hard to develop his game over the last number of seasons. He has added valuable goal contributions in the minutes he has gotten this year,” said Switchbacks assistant coach James Chambers. “This contract is a reward for his hard work and commitment to growing as a person and a professional. We are delighted to have him join the organization.”
Rios joined the Switchbacks as a USL Academy signing from Real Colorado, where he had previously competed in the USL Academy League. This past season, Rios was among five players signed by the Switchbacks from regional development partners, with Real Colorado’s Rylan Smith and Luke Schultz, Pride Soccer’s Dillon Clarke, and Rush Pikes Peak’s Caden Hickox also joining the First Team as USL Academy signings.