USL Cup Final Preview: Swope Park Rangers at New York Red Bulls II

Ayrton vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2

The Swope Park Rangers conclude their 2016 season on Sunday, Oct. 23 when the side takes on New York Red Bulls II in the USL Cup Final at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and the game will be broadcast on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app, while SiriusXM FC 85 will have the call on the radio.

Watch Party at Children's Mercy Park

The Rangers are looking to become the second expansion team to lift the USL Cup trophy, following Sacramento Republic FC’s title-winning season in 2014. SPR reached the final after defeating LA Galaxy II 3-0 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals, topping Orange County Blues FC 2-1 in the Semifinals and earning a 3-0 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in the Conference Final last weekend. All three games were played at Swope Soccer Village, meaning that Sunday’s game is the first Playoff game SPR will play on the road.

In last Saturday’s Western Conference Final, the Rangers took the lead in the eighth minute through Kris Tyrpak’s opportunist strike, before the 24-year-old forward tallied his second with a close-range finish before the break. SPR soaked up Vancouver’s pressure for the majority of the second half before adding a third goal through Dane Kelly to seal the 3-0 victory. In the waning moments, Nansel Selbol was sent off after receiving his second yellow card of the contest and is suspended for Sunday’s Final.

New York enters Sunday’s matchup having claimed the Eastern Conference Championship Trophy following a penalty shootout victory over Louisville City FC in the Eastern Conference Final last weekend at Red Bull Arena. The game finished 1-1 after Paco Craig put the visitors ahead early and Florian Valot equalized for Red Bulls II in the second half, before three red cards were shown in overtime to Louisville’s Sean Reynolds and Craig, along with New York’s Devon Williams – who is also suspended for Sunday’s Final.

Ryan Meara was the hero, saving two penalties for Red Bulls II in the 4-3 shootout victory. It was the second straight Playoff game that New York had needed penalties to advance, having survived the Conference Semifinals stage with a 5-4 shootout win after a 3-3 draw with reigning champions the Rochester Rhinos. Prior to that, New York had dispatched Orlando City B 4-0 in the Quarterfinals.

Neither the Rangers nor New York Red Bulls II played any inter-conference games during the 2016 regular season, meaning Sunday’s game is the first time each side will face an opponent from their complementary conference.

The Rangers finished the regular season with a 14-10-6 (48 pts.) record and have won seven straight games (including postseason), and are 4-6-5 on the road in 2016. Red Bulls II set USL records for wins (21), points (69) and goals (61) on their way to claiming the USL regular-season title and the number one seed in the East, while posting a 9-2-6 record at home.

2016 USL Cup Final
Date: Sunday, October 23, 2016
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Red Bull Arena (Harrison, N.J.)

Swope Park Rangers: 14-10-6, 48 pts. 4th seed in the West.

New York Red Bulls II: 21-3-6, 69 pts. 1st seed in the East.

TV: The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app
Radio: The game will be simulcast on SiriusXM FC 85
Talent: Michael Watts (play-by-play), Kate Markgraf (analyst), Heather Mitts (sideline)

USL Cup Final hashtag: #USLCup
Game-specific hashtag: #NYvSPR

Swope Park Rangers
Twitter: @SwopeRangers
Instagram: @swopeparkrangers

New York Red Bulls II
Twitter: @NYRBII