One week removed from a heartbreaking 4-3 home loss to Bethlehem Steel FC, the Swope Park Rangers (0-2-1, 1 point) conclude their three-game homestand on Monday in their inaugural USL Championship meeting with Indy Eleven (2-1-0, 6 points).
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN+. General admission tickets for the Eastern Conference clash are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office beginning at 5:30 p.m. CT on matchday.
The Rangers were narrowly denied their first win of the season against Steel FC last Saturday, April 6, taking a 3-1 lead into the final 20 minutes only to see it evaporate in the late stages. Forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker opened the scoring for the hosts before winger Jerome Ngom Mbekeli struck on either side of halftime, delivering a rampant performance that culminated in USL Championship Team of the Week accolades. Bethlehem roared back, however, as an unfortunate own goal, a Benjamin Ofeimu header and a Sergio Santos strike gave the visitors all three points.
The in-form Mbekeli has two goals and one assist this season, having arrived at SPR from Czechoslovakian side MFK Vyskov in January. He has represented Cameroon at various youth levels, including the U-23s.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura fielded a reshuffled lineup against Bethlehem after seven Sporting Kansas City loanees featured in a 2-2 draw versus Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on March 23. Captain Graham Smith was the lone loanee this time around, while 16-year-old goalkeeper Max Trejo and 17-year-old midfielder Jake Davis earned their professional debuts as Sporting KC Academy products. Rookie Camden Riley also made his first professional appearance alongside Smith in central defense.
Led by second-year head coach Martin Rennie, Indy Eleven have had two weeks’ rest since a 1-0 home win over Hartford Athletic on March 30 that saw 20,251 fans descend on Lucas Oil Stadium. The hosts struck in the 40th minute on an own goal en route to a second straight league victory. Indy's attack is spearheaded by 31-year-old Danish striker Thomas Enevoldsen, whose 20 goals last season for Orange County SC were second-most in the USL Championship.
Monday will serve as a reunion between the Rangers and two former players who now ply their trade for Indy Eleven.
Versatile Canadian Tyler Pasher was an integral member of SPR from 2016-2017, helping the club to consecutive USL Western Conference championships and appearances in the USL Cup Final. Pasher recorded five goals and seven assists in in 51 appearances for the Rangers across two seasons.
Prolific forward Dane Kelly was also a member of the inaugural 2016 SPR side under then-head coach Marc Dos Santos. Kelly tallied six goals and two assists in 20 appearances for SPR.
USL Championship: Game 4 of 34
Date: Monday, April 15, 2019
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Children's Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
Live Stream: ESPN+
Swope Park Rangers: 0-2-1 (1 point, 16th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Indy Eleven: 2-1-0 (6 points, 9th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None
Match Notes: Click here