The Swope Park Rangers earned their first point of the 2019 USL Championship season on Saturday, scrapping to a 2-2 draw with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC that saw both sides strike twice in a breathless final 20 minutes at Children’s Mercy Park.
Tobi Adewole gave Pittsburgh (0-1-1, 1 point) a 71st-minute lead, only for the Rangers (0-1-1, 1 point) to roar back with two unanswered goals from Sporting Kansas City loanees Rodney Wallace and Kelyn Rowe in the 83rd and 88th minutes. SPR were denied victory in the dying embers of the match, however, as Anthony Velarde’s penalty kick in the 91st minute restored parity and gave both sides their first result of the campaign.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura fielded a formidable Rangers lineup on Saturday, giving starts to seven players on loan from Sporting Kansas City. Among them were 22-year-old midfielder Gedion Zelalem, who made his Children’s Mercy Park debut, while MLS veterans Wallace and Rowe added experience to a youthful side that included 16-year-olds Gianluca Busio and Tyler Freeman as well as teenage Academy products Mo Abualnadi and Wilson Harris.
The 19-year-old Harris was on the receiving end of the game’s first chance in the 10th minute, settling an impudent pass from Rowe and pulling the trigger from the left side of the penalty area, but Pittsburgh goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard was equal to it.
Making their first-ever trip to Kansas City, the Riverhounds threatened two minutes later when Kevin Kerr slipped a through ball to the feet of Neco Brett. The Jamaican advanced into the penalty area, rounded goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas and cut it back for Kenardo Forbes, who dragged a shot wide of the gaping net from the top of the box.
The hosts responded with a well-worked opportunity of their own on the half-hour mark. A clever Mark Segbers diagonal ball found the on-running Harris, who cushioned a header to Busio 20 yards from goal. The U.S. youth international’s low piledriver forced another save from Lundgard, who sprawled low to his right to keep the game scoreless.
An even battle continued to ebb and flow in the second half, with Segbers defending heroically to block Brett’s close-range effort in the 62nd minute. Zendejas produced his best stop of the day four minutes later, denying second-half substitute and former Sporting KC signing Christian Volesky on the breakaway.
Pittsburgh’s chances foreshadowed their 71st-minute breakthrough, as Adewole prodded home from six yards off a Forbes free kick to give the Riverhounds their first goal of the 2019 campaign.
The setback prompted SPR into a spirited fightback, and Nagamura’s men would be rewarded on 83 minutes. Killian Colombie’s seething volley was blocked on the doorstep by Joseph Greenspan, but Wallace was there to lash the rebound past Lundgaard to restore parity.
With momentum firmly on their side, the Rangers pressed forward and found a go-ahead goal. Colombie’s impact off the bench was on further display in the 88th minute when the Frenchman sped down the left flank and sent a low delivery across the face of goal, allowing Rowe to hammer a shot off the inside of the near post and into the net to make the score 2-1.
A final sting in the tale afforded Pittsburgh the opportunity to equalize in second-half stoppage time. Abualnadi was shown a red card for a foul inside the box on Volesky, and Velarded dispatched the ensuing spot kick to level terms and split the points in a wild ending to the match.
The Rangers are off next weekend and will resume their three-game homestand on Saturday, April 6, hosting Bethlehem Steel FC in a 4 p.m. CT kickoff at Children’s Mercy Park. Ticket for the inaugural meeting between the clubs are available now at SeatGeek.com.
2019 USL Championship
Game 2 of 34
Children's Mercy Park Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 58 degrees and cloudy
|Swope Park Rangers (0-1-1, 1 point)||0||2||2|
|Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (0-1-1, 1 points)||0||2||2|
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Rodney Wallace, Mo Abualnadi, Graham Smith, Mark Segbers; Kelyn Rowe (C), Gedion Zelalem (Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal 59), Gianluca Busio; Tyler Freeman (Killian Colombie 68), Wilson Harris (Ethan Vanacore-Decker 75), Jerome Ngom Mbekeli
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Alexsander, Camden Riley, Felipe Hernandez
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC: Ben Lundgaard; Joseph Greenspan, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Tobi Adewole; Jordan Dover (Anthony Velarde 89), Kevin Kerr (Christian Volesky 63), Mouhamed Dabo, Kenardo Forbes (C), Ryan James; Steevan Dos Santos, Neco Brett (Caleb Smith 75)
Subs Not Used: Kyle Morton, Uchenna Uzo, Noah Franke, Sammy Kahsai
PIT -- Tobi Adeowole 1 (Kenardo Forbes 1) 71
SPR -- Rodney Wallace 1 (unassisted) 83
SPR -- Kelyn Rowe 1 (Killian Colombie 1) 88
PIT -- Anthony Velarde 1 (penalty kick) 91
PIT -- Mouhamed Dabo (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 33
SPR -- Killian Colombie (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 70
SPR -- Mo Abualnadi (red card; denial of obvious goal scoring opportunity) 90
SPR -- Kelyn Rowe (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 94
|Shots on Goal||5||4|
Referee: Guido Gonzales Jr.
Assistant Referee: Matthew Seem
Assistant Referee: Justin Mack
Fourth Official: Luis Fernando Tribaldo