The Swope Park Rangers fell 1-0 to Louisville City FC on Monday in the 2017 USL Cup Final at Louisville Slugger Field on an 88th-minute goal from second-half substitute Cameron Lancaster.
The Rangers, appearing in the USL Cup Final for the second straight year since being established as an affiliate of Sporting KC for the 2016 season, again conclude their campaign with a runners-up finish on the road as home teams have now won all seven USL championships.
On a 45-degree night in downtown Louisville, Ky., SPR held the hosts to only a single shot on goal through 87 minutes before Lancaster directed a perfectly-placed header from the penalty spot past Adrian Zendejas on a cross from Devon Williams for the game’s decisive moment.
Both teams saw goals disallowed in the first half due to offside infractions in a match that placed a premium on scoring opportunities. Nansel Selbol’s shot from distance in the 12th minute was the first of four saves for Louisville City FC goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh, who did well in the 48th minute to thwart Kharlton Belmar in a 1-on-1 situation and kept out three separate efforts from Lebo Moloto in the 35th, 74th and 77th minutes.
Louisville City FC, the top team in the Eastern Conference in both the regular season and postseason, kept their third clean sheet in four playoff games and found the breakthrough moment with only minutes left in regulation. Luke Spencer’s shot in the 36th minute was the club’s only prior attempt on target, though Spencer again came close in the 60th minute with a first-time shot on a cross from Brian Ownby.
With the game on the cusp of extra time, Devon Williams took a touch on the right flank to settle a throw-in from Kyle Smith and whipped a right-footed service that curled toward Lancaster inside the penalty area. The Englishman leapt in front of Amer Didic, wearing the captain’s arm band after Christian Duke was forced off due to injury earlier in the second half, and brought the crowd of 14,000+ to its feet as his header nestled into the net for the breakthrough.
The Swope Park Rangers, whose lineup featured six players on loan from Sporting KC and four Sporting KC Academy products on Monday, will return to the pitch in 2018 when the United Soccer League expands to 34 regular season matches in 31 weeks. Swope Park Rangers season ticket packages ($119 and up) and membership in the Harry’s Rowdy Rangers Kids Club ($50) are available by calling 888-4KC-GOAL.
Swope Park Rangers at Louisville City FC
November 13, 2017 – Louisville Slugger Field (Louisville, Ky.)
Swope Park Rangers 0-1 Louisville City FC
LOU – Cameron Lancaster 8 (Devon Williams 3) 88’
SPR – James Musa (caution; persistent infringement) 17’
SPR – Amer Didic (caution; reckless foul) 24’
LOU – Mark-Anthony Caye (caution; reckless foul) 93+
LOU – Niall McCabe (ejection; serious foul play) 98+
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Parker Maher, Dakota Barnathan (Max Rugova 91’), Amer Didic, Colton Storm; James Musa, Christian Duke © (Felipe Hernandez 71’), Kevin Oliveira; Kharlton Belmar, Lebo Moloto, Nansel Selbol
Substitutes Not Used: David Greczek, Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Robert Mirosavic, Oumar Ballo, Liam Doyle
Louisville City FC: Greg Ranjitsingh; Sean Totsch, Paco Craig, Tarek Morad; Kyle Smith, Oscar Jimenez, Devon Williams, Paolo DelPiccolo ©, George Davis IV, Brian Ownby (Mark-Anthony Kaye 73’); Luke Spencer (Cameron Lancaster 67’)
Substitutes Not Used: Ilija Ilic, Richard Ballard, Tim Dobrowolski, Niall McCabe, Guy Abend
Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker and Danny Thornberry
Fourth Official: Hilario Grajeda
Fifth Official: Eric Weisbrod
Weather: 45 degrees and cloudy