For the second straight year, the Swope Park Rangers are on the precipice of USL Cup glory. The back-to-back Western Conference champions advanced to this exact stage in 2016, only to fall short of a league title in their inaugural season. With unfinished business still at hand, the Rangers will travel to face Louisville City in the 2017 USL Cup Final on Monday, Nov. 13, airing live nationally at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
During the week leading up to the championship match, SportingKC.com will visit seven relevant storylines surrounding the biggest game of the United Soccer League season. In Part Three, we examine the Rangers' bid to become Kansas City's next professional soccer champion.
The 2017 USL Cup Final represents an opportunity for the Swope Park Rangers to join a sacred class of soccer champions in Kansas City.
What do Sporting Kansas City, FC Kansas City and the Kansas City Comets have in common, other than a shared metropolitan area they call home?
Well, they don't call it the Soccer Capital of America for nothing. All three professional teams have been crowned league champions over the last four years. Sporting KC lifted MLS Cup in December 2013 before the Comets won a Major Indoor Soccer League title three months later. That paved the way for FC Kansas City to repeat as National Women’s Soccer League champions in 2014 and 2015.
SPR took their first shot at championship glory last October. Although they finished as runners-up to New York Red Bulls II, the Rangers have battled their way to the USL Cup Final yet again. This marks the fifth straight year a Kansas City professional soccer team has reached its league championship game (or championship series, in the Comets’ case).
KANSAS CITY TEAMS IN PROFESSIONAL SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS
(2013 – present)
|2013||Missouri Comets||Lost series 2-0||Baltimore Blast|
|2013||Sporting KC||T 1-1 (W 7-6 in PKs)||Real Salt Lake|
|2014||Missouri Comets||Won series 2-1||Baltimore Blast|
|2014||FC Kansas City||W 2-1||Seattle Reign FC|
|2015||FC Kansas City||W 1-0||Seattle Reign FC|
|2016||Swope Park Rangers||L 1-5||New York Red Bulls II|
|2017||Swope Park Rangers||?||Louisville City FC|
Monday’s USL Cup Final between the Swope Park Rangers and Louisville City FC — set to kick off inside Louisville Slugger Field at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU — also gives Kansas City a chance to add yet another soccer title to its already impressive collection.
Do the math, and no city in the United States has more professional soccer championships since 2013 than Kansas City’s four. This consists of running totals from every fully professional league in American soccer on the men’s and women’s side. That includes MLS, the NWSL, the USL and the NASL for outdoor. It also includes the current Major Arena Soccer League for indoor, which merged the MISL and PASL — two separate men’s indoor professional leagues — in 2014. (Consequently, men's professional indoor soccer had two champions in 2013 and 2014.)
PROFESSIONAL SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIPS BY AMERICAN CITY
(2013 – present)
|City||Championships||Winning teams||Year & League|
|Kansas City||4||Sporting KC
FC Kansas City
2014, 2015 NWSL
|New York||4||New York Red Bulls II
New York Cosmos
2013, 2015, 2016 NASL
|2013, 2017 NWSL
|Baltimore||3||Baltimore Blast||2013 MISL
2016, 2017 MASL
|Buffalo||1||Western New York Flash||2016 NWSL|
|Chicago||1||Chicago Mustangs||2014 PASL|
|Los Angeles||1||LA Galaxy||2014 MLS|
|Orlando||1||Orlando City SC||2013 USL|
|Rochester||1||Rochester Rhinos||2015 USL|
|Sacramento||1||Sacramento Republic FC||2014 USL|
|San Antonio||1||San Antonio Scorpions||2014 NASL|
|San Diego||1||San Diego Sockers||2013 PASL|
|Seattle||1||Seattle Sounders FC||2016 MLS|