The Swope Park Rangers suffered a 2-0 defeat to USL Western Conference leaders Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night at Swope Soccer Village. Ruben Luna headed in the opener in the eighth minute before a second-half strike from TJ Casner saw the Rangers suffer their first defeat in four games.
The Rangers (10-10-6, 36 pts.) began on the front foot and threatened when Diego Rubio juked his way past a defender and whipped a cross in that narrowly evaded Emmanuel Appiah in the sixth minute.
Two minutes later, RGV (12-5-9, 45 pts.) took the lead. Memo Rodriguez curled in a corner kick that found in the middle of the box, and he headed home for his sixth goal in his last five games. The Toros would have the next chance of note in the 23rd minute, but Tim Melia was able to parry away Emilio Garcia’s ferocious free kick.
Paulo Nagamura and Connor Hallisey each saw long-distance attempts go off target before Melia was again called upon to save a free kick – this time from TJ Casner. The two sides traded chances toward the end of the first half, with SPR’s Ever Alvarado glancing a header wide and Luna unable to keep his shot on target with only Melia to beat at the other end.
The Rangers almost forced an own goal less than a minute into the second half when a low cross was turned behind, before Luna rattled the SPR crossbar after being found in the area by Casner.
SPR was afforded a golden opportunity to equalize in the 56th minute when Rubio was chopped down in the box by George Malki – resulting in a penalty kick. Nagamura stepped up but Callum Irving tipped his effort onto the post before Alvarado’s follow-up came off the opposite post.
Rio Grande Valley doubled their lead in the 67th minute. After pouring forward on the break, Charlie Ward found Casner on the left side of the area, and he slotted his shot beyond Melia for his second goal of the season to make the score 2-0.
The Rangers almost found a way back into the game in the 75th minute, but substitute Mark Anthony Gonzalez was unable to convert Tyler Pasher’s cross. As the clock ticked into the 90th minute, Melia produced a stunning stop down to his right to deny Dzenan Catic’s close-range effort as the game finished 2-0, dropping the Rangers to 8-4-1 at home.
- The Swope Park Rangers conclude their five-game homestand next weekend when they host Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Swope Soccer Village on Saturday, Sept. 10. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT, with a live stream available on SportingKC.com and tickets available via Ticketmaster.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Rio Grande Valley FC
September 3, 2016 – Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Swope Park Rangers 0, Rio Grande Valley FC 2
RGV – Ruben Luna 6 (Memo Rodriguez 5) 8’
RGV – TJ Casner 2 (Charlie Ward 2) 67’
SPR – Ualefi (Yellow Card) 48’
RGV – Emilio Garcia (Yellow Card) 50’
RGV – Eric Bird (Yellow Card) 75’
SPR – Amer Didic (Yellow Card) 78’
SPR – Diego Rubio (Yellow Card) 88’
Swope Park Rangers: Tim Melia; Ever Alvarado, Kevin Ellis, Amer Didic (Christian Duke 87’), Seth Sinovic (Tommy Meyer 62’); Ualefi (Mark Anthony Gonzalez 73’), Paulo Nagamura, Emmanuel Appiah; Connor Hallisey (Ayrton 73’), Diego Rubio, Cameron Porter (Tyler Pasher 73’).
Substitutes Not Used: Zac Lubin, Tomas Granitto.
STATS: Shots 10, Shots on Goal 1, Corners 5, Fouls 11
Rio Grande Valley FC: Callum Irving; George Malki, Taylor Hunter, Ivan Magalhaes, Kevin Garcia ©; Charlie Ward, Eric Bird (Kyle Murphy 88’), Emilio Garcia (Kai Greene 90+), Memo Rodriguez (Jorghino James 79’), TJ Casner (Christian Lucatero 90+); Ruben Luna (Dzenan Catic 76’).
Substitutes Not Used: Devin Perales, Arturo Sanchez.
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Goal 6, Corners 4, Fouls 18
Referee: Jose Lara
Assistant Referees: Trent Payne and Bryan W. Auten
Fourth Official: Andrew Smith
Weather: Clear and 75 degrees