Lebo Moloto vs. Real Monarchs SLC - April 29, 2017
Robert Hitz

Game Preview: SPR hosts Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in Western Conference Championship rematch

The Swope Park Rangers will put an eight-game home winning streak on the line at 7:30 p.m. CT this Friday when the team welcomes Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 to Swope Soccer Village. The meeting comes in a rematch of the Rangers’ 3-0 victory in last year’s Western Conference Championship which propelled the side into the USL Cup Final in the club’s inaugural season.

Tickets for the Cinco de Mayo match-up are available online at SeatGeek.com or at the venue box office prior to kickoff. The game will also be streamed live on SportingKC.com and can be followed online via the USLsoccer.com MatchCenter, powered by Opta.

After opening the season with three consecutive home victories, the Rangers have suffered one-goal losses in back-to-back road matches against Phoenix Rising FC and Real Monarchs. SPR now sits in fourth place in the USL Western Conference, one point ahead of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, as both teams look to return to the postseason in 2017 under new coaches.

The Swope Park Rangers promoted assistant coach Nikola Popovic to lead the club in its sophomore season while WFC2 tabbed Rich Fagan for the managerial role after he led the Whitecaps FC U-18 Residency team to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy final last year.

Former USL Rookie of the Year Kharlton Belmar continued his impressive start to the season last weekend, scoring his third goal in three starts for the Rangers since arriving in the offseason. SPR was also aided in the attack by the play of Kevin Oliveira, who recorded two shots and two chances created in his first start since tearing his ACL last summer.

While the Rangers spent the last two weeks on the road, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 enter Friday’s encounter following back-to-back home matches: a 1-0 loss to league leaders San Antonio FC and, most recently, a scoreless draw against Sacramento Republic FC. WFC2 swept the regular season series with SPR in 2016, securing a 2-1 road win in the first USL match on Children’s Mercy Victory Field last April followed by a 3-2 victory in Vancouver last June.

Whitecaps FC 2 midfielder Ben McKendry, who made his senior international debut for Canada earlier this year, leads all USL Western Conference players with 14 shots this season. McKendry is one of eight players to be loaned to WFC2 from Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2017, along with the likes of goalkeeper Spencer Richey and defender Cole Seiler.

The club also has an influx of young talent and featured five teenagers in their starting lineup last weekend: David Norman Jr. (18), Gloire Amanda (18), Matthew Baldisimo (19), Terran Campbell (18) and Thomas Gardner (19). Baldisimo’s younger brother, Michael (17), is also a member of WFC2 and recently represented Canada at the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Panama.

Game 6
 Friday, May 5, 2017
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Location: Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)

Swope Park Rangers: 3-2-0 (9 pts.), 4th in Western Conference.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2: 2-2-2 (8 pts.), 8th in Western Conference.

Live Stream:
 The game will be broadcast on SportingKC.com and YouTube.com/USL
Talent: Carter Augustine (play-by-play), Sam Kovzan (analyst)

Game-specific hashtag: 

Swope Park Rangers
Twitter: @SwopeRangers
Instagram: @SwopeParkRangers

Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Twitter: @WFC2