The Swope Park Rangers advanced to the USL Cup Playoffs Western Conference Final following a 2-1 victory over Orange County Blues FC after extra time at Swope Soccer Village this afternoon. Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Dane Kelly each scored for SPR, who had both Ever Alvarado and Tommy Meyer sent off in the second half.
The visitors were the first to create a clear-cut opportunity, with Blues forward Akwafei Ajeakwa sneaking in behind the Rangers defense, but his volleyed effort bounced wide of the far post with only Adrian Zendejas to beat.
The Rangers responded and took the lead in the 20th minute. Emmanuel Appiah played Kris Tyrpak into the box, and the 24-year-old fought his way through two challenges before the ball fell to Mark Anthony Gonzalez, who finished on the turn for the 12th goal of his rookie campaign.
Appiah, Tyrpak and Ever Alvarado all went close before the halftime whistle, but either missed the target or were denied by Orange County goalkeeper Joshua Cohen.
The Rangers should’ve added to their lead in the 57th minute, but Gonzalez’s chipped effort was tipped wide by Cohen when in on goal. From the ensuing corner, Alvarado’s flicked header flew just over the crossbar. Five minutes later, Appiah dribbled through the Blues midfield and fired toward the bottom corner, but Cohen dived down to his left to make the save.
The game changed in the 69th minute, when Alvarado was shown a straight red card for a challenge from behind on Andrew Gray. Orange County found their equalizer just moments after the Rangers were reduced to 10 men, as a ball into the box wasn’t dealt with and Max Rauhofer slammed the loose ball home to make it 1-1 in the 70th minute.
Neither side created any clear-cut chances in the 15 minutes that followed, and the Rangers were reduced to nine men in the 88th minute when Tommy Meyer was sent off for an off-the-ball incident.
The home side would have one final opportunity before the end of regulation, but substitute Dane Kelly slid his effort wide from eight yards out after being found by Tomas Granitto in the area.
The Rangers withstood heavy pressure throughout extra time, but created the better opportunities. In the 104th minute, Johnny Grant carried the ball all the way down the right wing before whipping in a cross that Christian Duke just couldn’t turn home at the near post.
One minute later, the Rangers took an improbable lead. Granitto won the ball on the edge of his own area and fed Nansel Selbol who in turn found Kelly in the Orange County half. The USL’s all-time leading scorer dribbled at the two Blues center backs before unleashing a bouncing effort from 25 yards out that found the bottom corner to make the score 2-1.
Kelly and Selbol each went close in the second half of extra time, but narrowly missed the target as the SPR defense dealt with numerous long balls and crosses into the box. The Rangers held firm and advanced to the Western Conference Final where they will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at Swope Soccer Village next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Man of the Match presented by Courtyard Overland Park Metcalf
- Oumar Ballo – The Rangers centerback was an incredibly calm and solid presence at the back, repelling wave after wave of Orange County attack as SPR played the final 50 minutes shorthanded following red cards to Ever Alvarado and Tommy Meyer.
- The Swope Park Rangers will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in the Western Conference Final on Saturday, Oct. 15 at Swope Soccer Village. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., with tickets going on sale via Ticketmaster at 10 a.m. on Monday and a live stream available on SportingKC.com.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Orange County Blues FC
October 9, 2016 – Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Swope Park Rangers 2, Orange County Blues FC 1
SPR – Mark Anthony Gonzalez 12 (Kris Tyrpak 2) 20’
OC – Max Rauhofer 3 (Unassisted) 70’
SPR – Dane Kelly 7 (Nansel Selbol 2) 105’
SPR – Christian Duke (Yellow Card) 40’
SPR – Ever Alvarado (Red Card) 69’
SPR – Tommy Meyer (Red Card) 88’
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Tommy Meyer, Amer Didic, Oumar Ballo, Ever Alvarado; Emmanuel Appiah (Nansel Selbol 78’), Christian Duke ©, Ayrton (Johnny Grant 90+); Kris Tyrpak (Tomas Granitto 70’), Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Dane Kelly 65’ (Akeil Barrett 120+)), Tyler Pasher.
Substitutes Not Used: Zac Lubin, Alex Molano.
STATS: Shots 13, Shots on Goal 6, Corners 6, Fouls 19
Orange County Blues FC: Joshua Cohen; Matthew Sheldon, Brenton Griffiths (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 83’), Maurice Pluntke, Andrae Campbell; Ivan Mirkovic ©, Richard Chaplow, Mats Bjurman (Orr Barouch 83’), Andrew Gray (Dusan Stevanovic 89’), Didier Crettenand (Max Rauhofer 61’); Akwafei Ajeakwa (Ryan Felix 116’).
Substitutes Not Used: Brandon Miller, Verneri Valimaa.
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Goal 2, Corners 2, Fouls 11
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Kyle Atkins and Kyle Armstrong
Fourth Official: Joseph Macht
Weather: Cloudy and 72 degrees