Game Preview: Rangers hit the road to take on Rio Grande Valley FC in Edinburg, Texas

Kharlton Belmar vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 - May 5, 2017

The Swope Park Rangers heads into Saturday’s matchup with Rio Grande Valley FC – the Houston Dynamo’s USL affiliate – sitting in fourth place in the USL Western Conference. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. CT from H-E-B Park in Edinburg, Texas, with a live stream available on SportingKC.com.

The Rangers are coming off a commanding 3-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field in Swope Soccer Village last Friday, with a dominant first-half performance doing the damage. Kevin Oliveira set up Nansel Selbol to open the scoring in the eighth minute before Lebo Moloto tallied his first for the Rangers when he fired home Colton Storm’s cross 20 minutes later. Before halftime, Moloto added an assist to his game when he slid through Kharlton Belmar who finished with aplomb.

On Tuesday, the USL announced that Moloto had been named to the Team of the Week for Week 7 after both scoring and providing an assist in the game while completing all 24 of his passes. Additionally, Selbol earned himself a spot on the bench of the Team of the Week after his expertly taken goal early in the game.

The Rangers (4-2-0, 12 pts.) are yet to win on the road this season, with all four wins coming at home and both losses coming on the road in back-to-back weeks against Phoenix Rising FC and Real Monarchs SLC. The Rangers have lost three straight on the road, stretching back to the USL Cup Final defeat at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 23, 2016.

Rio Grande Valley, led by Junior Gonzalez after last year’s coach Wilmer Cabrera was appointed Houston Dynamo head coach ahead of the 2017 MLS season, are 3-3-0 (9 pts.) on the season after making a name as one of the most impressive expansion teams in league history last year, shattering several long-standing defensive records. Most recently, the Toros cruised to a 3-0 home victory over OKC Energy FC at H-E-B Park on April 29 before enduring a bye last week.

In that game, Eric Bird gave the hosts an early lead before Joseph Holland doubled Rio Grande Valley’s advantage before halftime. In the second period, Jose Escalante added a third as RGV comfortably saw out the 3-0 win over their Western Conference counterparts.

The Rangers struggled against Rio Grande Valley FC in 2016, going 1-2-0 across three regular-season meetings. On May 21, 2016, SPR fell to a 4-1 defeat at the UTRGV Soccer and Track Complex in Edinburg, Texas, with Sporting KC loanee Daniel Salloi the lone goalscorer for the Rangers on the day.

Two weeks later, SPR turned the tables and defeated RGV 4-0 at Swope Soccer Village on June 4. Kevin Oliveira had a goal and three assists – earning him USL Player of the Week honors – while Mark Anthony Gonzalez scored twice and Salloi also found the net. In the final meeting of the year, the Rangers suffered their last home defeat on Sept. 3, falling 2-0. Since that game, the Rangers have gone 9-0-0 at home in USL play.

Game 7
 Saturday, May 13, 2017
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: H-E-B Park (Edinburg, Texas)

Swope Park Rangers: 4-2-0 (12 pts.), T-4th in Western Conference.
Rio Grande Valley FC: 3-3-0 (9 pts.), T-8th in Western Conference.

Live Stream:
 The game will be broadcast on SportingKC.com and YouTube.com/USL

Game-specific hashtag: 

Swope Park Rangers
Twitter: @SwopeRangers
Instagram: @SwopeParkRangers

Rio Grande Valley FC
Twitter: @RGVFC
Instagram: @RGVFC