The Swope Park Rangers (12-4-2, 2nd place) extended the club’s record-setting unbeaten streak to 10 games with a seventh straight win on Thursday, earning a 2-0 victory over Seattle Sounders FC 2 on goals by Lebo Moloto and Nansel Selbol.
The team’s fifth straight road win came via Adrian Zendejas’ fifth straight clean sheet and the Rangers now sit in second place in the USL’s Western Conference.
Playing the club’s fourth game in a 13-day stretch, head coach Nikola Popovic made four changes to the Rangers lineup. Oumar Ballo joined Amer Didic in central defense and helped anchor an SPR backline that held Seattle Sounders FC 2 to a single shot on target.
On the opposite end of the field, it was Christian Duke that led all players with five shots and the SPR captain came close to opening the scoring on three separate occasions in the first half. His left-footed effort from 25 yards out in the sixth minute beat Bryan Meredith but caromed off the woodwork and a second attempt from distance in the 13th minute carried just past the post.
Duke, a Sporting KC Academy product and the only player to appear in every match in team history, then forced a sprawling save from Meredith in the 40th minute with a well-taken half volley. Rangers teammate Lebo Moloto was first to the rebound and saw his acrobatic bicycle kick turned away by Meredith from close range.
The scoreless stalemate wouldn’t last for long in the second half as Lebo Moloto broke free from two Sounders FC 2 defenders in the 47th minute and buried a right-footed shot into the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winning goal. Moloto, who was drafted by the Seattle Sounders FC in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft, now has three goals on the year while Oumar Ballo earned his first assist of the season on the play.
Zendejas would be called into action in the 61st minute as the 21-year-old goalkeeper, on loan from Sporting Kansas City, made a superb stop to deny 16-year-old Sounders FC 2 forward Azriel Gonzalez in a one-on-one situation. Zendejas lowered his goals against average to 0.62 on the season and he leads all USL goalkeepers with 11 victories in 2017 after handing S2 their first shutout in a span of nine games.
Swope Park Rangers forward Mark Anthony Gonzalez came off the bench in the 74th minute and proved to be pivotal in SPR sealing a fifth road win on the season, most among all 22 USL teams. He came close to scoring his sixth goal of the year in the 81st minute with a sliding flick past Meredith that pinged off the post before then setting up the Rangers’ second goal moments later as he combined with a fellow second-half substitute.
Gonzalez won the ball inside the Rangers’ half of the field and then carried the ball nearly 50 yards prior to picking out a pass for Selbol on his left. The 20-year-old Sporting KC Academy product did the rest with a first-time, curling finish inside the far post for his fourth goal of the season – second most among players 20 years of age or younger in the USL – as the Rangers received a goal from a substitute for the sixth straight match.
Thursday’s match was the third all-time between the Swope Park Rangers and Seattle Sounders FC 2, and SPR now has 2-0 victories in all three meetings. The performance also capped off a three-game sweep in the Pacific Northwest on the heels of 1-0 wins over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and Portland Timbers FC 2 in the past nine days.
- The Swope Park Rangers return home to host expansion side Reno 1868 FC (7-4-5, 4th place) at 4 p.m. CT on Sunday, July 30 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field in Swope Soccer Village. Tickets for the match are available online at SeatGeek.com or by calling 913-951-3562 to purchase a $15 Bark in the Park package to attend the match with a canine companion. Proceeds will benefit the KC Pet Project and festivities will include a halftime show by the KC Disc Dogs, as well as a free collapsible dog bowl for the first 300 fans in attendance with their pups.
Swope Park Rangers at Seattle Sounders FC 2
July 20, 2017 – Starfire Sports Complex (Tukwila, Washington)
Swope Park Rangers 2-0 Seattle Sounders FC 2
SPR - Lebo Moloto 3 (Oumar Ballo 1) 47'
SPR - Nansel Selbol 4 (Mark Anthony Gonzalez 1) 83'
SPR – James Musa (caution) 31'
SEA -- Charles Renken (caution) 36'
SPR -- Colton Storm (caution) 61'
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Colton Storm, Amer Didic, Oumar Ballo, Parker Maher; James Musa, Christian Duke (C), Felipe Hernandez; Cameron Iwasa Lebo Moloto, Kharlton Belmar
Substitutes Not Used: Darrin MacLeod, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Robert Mirosavic, Dakota Barnathan, Liam Doyle, Mark Anthony Gonzalez, Nansel Selbol
STATS: Shots 10, Shots on Goal 4, Corners 6, Fouls 12, Possession 52.9%
Seattle Sounders FC 2: Bryan Meredith (C); Khai Brisco, Lorenzo Ramos, Brian Nana-Sinkam, Christian Koontz, Charles Renken, Azriel Gonzalez, Francisco Narbon, Ray Saari, Zach Mathers, Seyi Adekoya
Substitutes Not Used: Guy Edoa, Dylan Teves, Sam Fowler, Javorn Stevens, Camilo Santiago, Cameron Martin, Victor Mansaray
STATS: Shots 4, Shots on Goal 1, Corners 2, Fouls 11, Possession 47.1%
Referee: Katja Koroleva
Assistant Referees: Cephas Quartson and Logan Griffis
Fourth Official: Levi Rippy
Weather: Sunny and 71 degrees