The Swope Park Rangers (1-5-4, 7 points) and expansion side Memphis 901 FC (2-6-4, 10 points) battled to an entertaining 2-2 draw on Wednesday at Children’s Mercy Park.
Four different players opened their 2019 USL Championship scoring accounts as SPR received a first-half penalty from captain Camden Riley and a second-half goal from Mark Segbers, while Memphis struck early and late through Dan Metzger and Tristan Hodge, respectively.
The draw extends SPR’s home unbeaten run to three matches and gives the club its third result in four games.
Rangers head coach Paulo Nagamura reshuffled his lineup to the tune of six changes from Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Atlanta United 2. Sporting KC Academy product Sean Karani notably earned his first USL Championship start as part of a three-pronged attack alongside Ethan Vanacore-Decker and Tyler Freeman, the latter of whom returned to the squad after a two-week stint with the United States U-17 Men’s National Team at the Concacaf U-17 Championship.
Memphis entered the night with just four points from their previous six matches but landed an early haymaker courtesy of Dan Metzger. The midfielder latched onto an in-swinging Marc Burch corner kick in the third minute and prodded home from close range for his first goal of the season.
A positive Rangers response nearly resulted in an equalizer five minutes later when Karani embarked on a lung-busting run down the right flank and cut the ball back for 17-year-old Jake Davis near the penalty spot. Davis’ first-time effort was well struck and destined for the right corner of the net, but Memphis goalkeeper Jeff Caldwell produced a stunning reflex stop to keep his side ahead.
Karani continued to shine out wide and won the Rangers a spot kick in the 34th minute, beating a defender on the edge of the box before drawing a foul on Abdi Mohamed. Riley, donning the captain’s armband in central defense, stepped up and buried the ensuing penalty to restore parity.
The second half unfolded with delicate poise, and it wasn’t until the 64th minute that either keeper was truly tested. Davis teed up Ethan Vanacore-Decker for a seething strike on the edge of the box that Caldwell parried away, seconds prior to Memphis surviving a major scare. Felipe Hernandez’ corner kick was nodded goalward by second-half substitute Jerome Ngom Mbekeli, but Elliot Collier was stationed near the goal line to head clear and save his team’s blushes.
Mbekeli’s chance breathed life into the Rangers, who claimed a 2-1 lead on 68 minutes. A superb buildup along the left side resulted in a wonderfully worked team goal as Karani’s clever back heel to Alexsander was served low across the grain to the back post, where Segbers finished astutely for his opening goal of the campaign and his first in an SPR uniform.
The visitors were undeterred, however, and pulled level by capitalizing on yet another corner kick in the 73rd minute. Cameron Lindley’s delivery from the left flag was met by Hodge, who snapped a powerful header into the net to record what would end up being the final tally of the evening.
Dick was forced into an impressive save in the 76th minute, smothering an absolute laser of a free kick from Burch in what proved to be the final flashbulb moment of the contest.
With games coming thick and fast, SPR will now travel to Florida for their third league fixture in seven days when they meet Eastern Conference front-runners Tampa Bay Rowdies (6-0-5, 26 points) at Al Lang Stadium. Kickoff on Saturday is set for 6:30 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN+.
2019 USL Championship
Game 10 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 69 degrees and cloudy
|Swope Park Rangers (1-5-4, 7 points)||1||1||2|
|Memphis 901 FC (2-6-4, 10 points)||1||1||2|
Swope Park Rangers: Eric Dick; Mark Segbers, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley (C), Alexsander; Rassambek Akhmatov, Felipe Hernandez, Jake Davis (Jahon Rad 83); Sean Karani, Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Tyler Freeman (Jerome Ngom Mbekeli HT)
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Mo Abualnadi, Killian Colombie, Wilson Harris, Will Little
Memphis 901 FC: Jeff Caldwell; Josh Morton, Tristan Hodge, Marc Burch (C), Abdi Mohamed (Jacob Hauser-Ramsey HT); Lagos Kunga (Ewan Grandison 80), Dan Metzger, Cameron Lindley, Adam Najem; Jochen Graf (Duane Muckette 61), Elliot Collier
Subs Not Used: Scott Levene, Todd Pratzner, Luca Uccello, Morgan Hackworth
MEM -- Dan Metzger 1 (Marc Burch 1) 3'
SPR -- Camden Riley 1 (penalty kick) 34'
SPR -- Mark Segbers 1 (Alexsander 3) 68'
MEM -- Tristan Hodge 1 (Cameron Lindley 1) 73'
MEM -- Adam Najem (yellow card; dissent) 53'
SPR -- Felipe Hernandez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 60'
SPR -- Ethan Vanacore-Decker (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 82'
MEM -- Josh Morton (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 90'
|Shots on Goal||6||6|
Referee: Jon Freemon
Assistant Referee: Truman Berghall
Assistant Referee: Jack Ryan-Feldman
Fourth Official: Matt Miller