The Swope Park Rangers (15-7-6, 4th in West) cruised to a dominant 3-1 victory over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (9-12-8, 10th in West) at Weidner Field in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Saturday night. The win sees the Rangers clinch a berth in the USL Cup Playoffs for the second straight season with four games to spare.
Conditions in Colorado Springs deteriorated throughout the early stages of the game and the match was suspended in the 18th minute due to lightning in the area. The delay lasted approximately one hour and nine minutes before the game resumed with the score level at 0-0.
The scoreline didn’t remain deadlocked for long as the Rangers came out of the delay absolutely flying, scoring three goals in as many minutes. First, Kharlton Belmar set up Oumar Ballo to fire home his first career goal to make the score 1-0 early in the 20th minute.
Fifty-six seconds later – still in the 20th minute – the Rangers doubled their lead when Belmar was sent through on goal and Switchbacks goalkeeper Moise Pouaty made a hash of gathering the ball in the soggy conditions, allowing the newly signed Sporting KC man to escape behind him and fire into an empty net for his team-leading 12th goal of the season.
In the 22nd minute, it was three. Two Sporting KC Academy products linked up to devastating effect as Felipe Hernandez pounced on a stray pass and fed Nansel Selbol into the area. The 20-year-old showed terrific composure to cut inside of two challenges before sliding his eighth goal of the campaign into the side netting to make the score 3-0.
Rookie goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod was called into action seconds before halftime as he was forced to sprawl out to his right and produce an excellent save on Shawn Chin’s low effort that was destined for the bottom corner.
SPR began the second half with as much purpose as the first, as halftime substitute Mark Anthony Gonzalez tested Pouaty with a sharp turn and shot after being found in the area by Hernandez. In the 58th minute, another Colorado Springs turnover fell to the feet of Lebo Moloto whose curling effort was easily saved by Pouaty.
Sporting KC loanee James Musa had an excellent chance to score his first goal for the club when Gonzalez found him with a sumptuous back-heel on the edge of the area, but Pouaty was smartly off his line to smother the New Zealand international’s attempt.
The Switchbacks continued to search for a goal to bring them back in the game, and substitute Kevaugh Frater went close in the 87th minute when he dragged a powerful drive narrowly wide of the post.
Colorado Springs finally found their consolation goal in the second minute of second-half stoppage time as Pascal Eboussi bundled home into an empty net after Tobenna Uzo had headed a corner back across the face of goal as the game finished 3-1.
- The Swope Park Rangers return home for a midweek matchup against LA Galaxy II at Swope Soccer Village on Wednesday, Sept. 27. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with the match streamed live on YouTube.com/USL and in-game updates will be available through the team’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
September 23, 2017 – Weidner Field (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Swope Park Rangers 3, Colorado Springs 1
SPR – Oumar Ballo 1 (Kharlton Belmar 2) 20’
SPR – Kharlton Belmar 12 (Unassisted) 20’
SPR – Nansel Selbol 8 (Felipe Hernandez 2) 22’
COS – Pascal Eboussi 2 (Tobenna Uzo 1) 92+
SPR – Oumar Ballo (Yellow Card) 1’
COS – Josh Phillips (Yellow Card) 12’
COS – Shawn Chin (Yellow Card) 15’
COS – Rony Argueta (Yellow Card) 94+
Swope Park Rangers: Darrin MacLeod; Colton Storm, Amer Didic, Oumar Ballo, Tyler Pasher; James Musa, Felipe Hernandez, Christian Duke; Kharlton Belmar, Lebo Moloto (Robert Mirosavic 88’), Nansel Selbol (Mark Anthony Gonzalez 46’ (Dakota Barnathan 71’)).
Substitutes Not Used: David Greczek, Liam Doyle, Kuzain, Max Rugova.
STATS: Shots 14, Shots on Goal 6, Corners 2, Fouls 10, Possession 56.3%
Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: Moise Pouaty; Shawn Chin, Davy Armstrong (Tobenna Uzo 64’), Sean McFarlane (Pascal Eboussi 72’), Josh Phillips; Luke Vercollone, Rony Argueta ©, Shane Malcolm, Jack Jones (Kevaughn Frater 46’); Akwafei Ajeakwa, Masta Kacher.
Substitutes Not Used: Dan Jackson, Kim Tae-Seong, Eddy Prugh, Aaron King.
STATS: Shots 16, Shots on Goal 4, Corners 5, Fouls 11, Possession 43.7%