The Swope Park Rangers defeated Portland Timbers 2 by a 1-0 scoreline on Sunday at Providence Park in Portland, extending their club-record winning streak to six straight regular season matches.
Kharlton Belmar came off the bench to score the winning goal for the second consecutive game, this time heading home off a cross from Nansel Selbol in the 61st minute to push the Rangers’ unbeaten run to a team-record nine USL matches. The result also gave goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas his fourth straight clean sheet as SPR’s gaudy shutout streak reached 381 minutes.
Sunday’s victory lifts the Rangers (11-4-2, 3rd place) within one point of second-place San Antonio FC in the Western Conference standings, while Portland (1-15-2, 15th place) remains rooted at the bottom of the table after failing to register its first home win of 2017.
Four days removed from a 1-0 road triumph over Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the Rangers began brightly when Selbol forced USL saves leader Kendall McIntosh into a near-post stop in the second minute. At the opposite end, Portland was unable to capitalize on a pair of set piece opportunities as Augustine Williams headed high off a free kick from Tomas Granitto before Omar Mohamed's 20-yard effort curled just beyond Zendejas' left-hand post.
Lebo Moloto was on the receiving end of SPR's next chance in the 22nd minute, running onto a precise cross from Kevin Oliveira only to see his clean strike blocked by Harold Hanson. Six minutes later, James Musa latched onto Oliveira's out-swinging corner kick and steered a powerful header narrowly wide.
The visitors asked further questions of the Portland defense nine minutes before intermission when Selbol drove into the box from the left wing and hit the turf, allowing Mark Anthony Gonzalez to tee up Oliveira for a thunderous shot from the top of the box that sizzled a yard over the crossbar. Moloto then tried his luck on the stroke of halftime with an audacious attempt from long range that dipped inches over the woodwork.
Belmar replaced Gonzalez at the interval and made a quick impact on proceedings against his former club, picking out Moloto in a central position 20 yards from goal. The South African cut right to beat his defender and lashed a right-footed blast marginally high on the edge of the 18.
The Rangers surged ahead just after the hour-mark when Selbol clipped a delightful ball to the far right post that was nodded into the corner of the net by Belmar, who tallied his team-leading sixth goal of the campaign and his second in as many matches. It was also his second goal of the season against Timbers 2, having bagged the winner in SPR's 1-0 victory on March 29 at Swope Soccer Village.
Portland responded positively after falling behind as Terrell Lowe and Russell Cicerone pulled the trigger on a pair of blocked shots in a crowded penalty area. Another look came in the 80th minute when Kyle Bjornethun cut the ball back across the face of goal for Hanson, who skied a one-time piledriver several feet above the target.
Zendejas produced a superb and vital save in the 89th minute, sprawling low to his right to tip Villyan Bijev’s crisp half volley inches wide of the frame. Timbers 2 would spurn one final opportunity deep in second-half stoppage time as Zendejas punched a looping cross only as far as Lowe, who volleyed high and wide from the right side of the box. Seconds later, the full-time whistle drew an end to the contest and gave the Rangers their fourth straight away win.
- The Swope Park Rangers conclude their three-game road trip in the Pacific Northwest with a visit to Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 9:30 p.m. CT at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington. The match will stream live on SportingKC.com with in-game updates available through the club’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.
Swope Park Rangers at Portland Timbers 2
July 16, 2017 – Providence Park (Portland, Oregon)
Swope Park Rangers 1-0 Portland Timbers 2
SPR – Kharlton Belmar 6 (Nansel Selbol 3) 61
POR – Kyle Bjornethun (Yellow Card) 35
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Colton Storm, Amer Didic, Liam Doyle, Parker Maher; Lebo Moloto (Felipe Hernandez 75), James Musa, Christian Duke (C); Kevin Oliveira (Cameron Iwasa 57), Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Kharlton Belmar 46), Nansel Selbol
Substitutes Not Used: Darrin MacLeod, Oumar Ballo, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Robert Mirosavic
STATS: Shots 9, Shots on Goal 2, Corners 4, Fouls 18, Possession 52.5%
Portland Timbers 2: Kendall McIntosh (C); Harold Hanson, Max Ornstil, Michael Amick, Kyle Bjornethun; Tomas Granitto (Jacob Montes 55), Terrell Lowe, Russell Cicerone, Villyan Bijev, Omar Mohamed; Augustine Williams
Substitutes Not Used: Wade Hamilton, Shaquille Jimenez, Jose Perez, Gio Calixtro
STATS: Shots 11, Shots on Goal 1, Corners 4, Fouls 15, Possession 47.5%