Recap: Hernandez and Harris strike as Rangers take narrow 3-2 loss to Loudoun United FC

The Swope Park Rangers (1-7-4, 7 points) slipped to a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at the hands of Loudoun United FC (3-4-3, 12 points) on Wednesday night at Children’s Mercy Park.

SPR twice came from behind via first-half goals from Sporting Kansas City Academy products Wilson Harris and Felipe Hernandez, cancelling out Kyle Murphy and Griffin Yow strikes amidst hot and humid playing conditions. The clubs appeared destined to split the points until the 87th minute when Connor Presley broke through to give Loudoun the narrow victory.

Playing their first match since May 25, SPR began brightly as Harris nearly opened the scoring within 60 seconds. The Sporting KC Academy product beat Noah Pilato on the right side of the box and forced a reflex save from Loudoun goalkeeper Calle Brown, who punched the piledriver over the crossbar.

The visitors were quick to respond and drew first blood five minutes later. Peabo Doue embarked on an overlapping run and whipped a pinpoint cross into the six-yard for Murphy. Rangers keeper John Pulskamp got a healthy touch to the Loudoun captain’s shot, but the ball looped over the goal line before Camden Riley could produce a heroic clearance.

A wild, end-to-end start continued to enthrall, and the Rangers needed only seven minutes to restore parity. Hernandez settled a diagonal pass from Alexsander and unfurled a stunning 25-yard strike that nestled into the far left corner for his SPR-leading fifth goal of 2019. Alexsander notched his team-best fourth assist on the play as both players extended their sparking runs of form into the month of June.

Pulskamp made a superb stop in the 14th minute to deny United States youth international Yow, shortly before SPR’s Ayyoub Allach prompted Brown into a save of his own. At the opposite end and just shy of the half-hour mark, Rassambek Akhmatov cut centrally from the left edge of the box and dragged an attempt inches wide of the near post with Brown rooted to the turf.

Yow showed his quality in the 39th minute, racing onto Doue’s clever ball through and slotting a tidy finish low across Pulskamp and into the net for his second goal of the year.

Undeterred, the Rangers again pulled level on the stroke of halftime. Hernandez drew a foul on Yow along the far sideline, giving Alexsander an opportunity to serve in a tantalizing free kick. Harris latched onto the Brazilian’s delivery and poked past Brown for his second tally of the campaign and the fifth of his USL Championship career.

Intermission evoked a slowed tempo in the early stages of the second period, but a Hernandez corner kick almost resulted in a Loudoun own goal. Doue pinged the in-swinger onto the backside of teammate Collin Verfurth, and Brown had to sprawl right to keep the ball from skipping into his net.

Murphy had a decent look to double his total in the 65th minute, only to send a rocket high and wide on the breakaway. The chance came a moment after Pulskamp corralled a Presley header off a corner kick. Some 10 minutes later, Doue and Antonio Bustamante both narrowly missed the target.

Brown denied SPR a golden chance to take the lead on 79 minutes, sticking out a foot to thwart substitute Ethan Vanacore-Decker from a tight angle. Pulskamp then foiled Yow and Orlando Sinclair with a pair of diving blocks to keep the score tied.

Karani was surprised to see Hernandez’s 86th-minute corner kick reach him at the far post, reacting quickly to get his head to the ball, but the effort bounced marginally wide.

SPR were left ruing their luck a minute later when a smooth Loudoun attack supplied the game-winner. Substitute Bryang Kayo combined intricately with a teammate before spreading it to Presley, who tucked home inside the near post to secure United all three points and condemn the Rangers to a bitter defeat.

2019 USL Championship
Game 12 of 34

Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Attendance: 529
Weather: 86 degrees and sunny

Score 1 2 F
Swope Park Rangers (1-7-4, 7 points) 2 0 2
Loudoun United FC (3-4-3, 12 points) 2 1 3

Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Mark Segbers, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley (C), Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach (Jahon Rad 63'), Felipe Hernandez, Rassambek Akhmatov; Sean Karani, Wilson Harris (Ethan Vanacore-Decker 63'), Killian Colombie (Will Little 74')
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Dylan Hooper, Jake Davis

Loudoun United FC: Calle Brown; Jack Villatoro, Collin Verfurth, Nelson Martinez, Peabo Doue; Connor Presley, Antonio Bustamante, Noah Pilato (Bryang Kayo 59'), Andrew Lubahn (Orlando Sinclair 59'), Griffin Yow; Kyle Murphy (C) (Moses Nyeman 71')
Subs Not Used: Colin Miller, Jack Jean Baptiste, Adam Lundagard, Ted Ku-Dipietro

Scoring Summary:
LDN -- Kyle Murphy 4 (Peabo Doue 1) 6'
SPR -- Felipe Hernandez 5 (Alexsander 4) 13'
LDN -- Griffin Yow 2 (Peabo Doue 2) 39'
SPR -- Wilson Harris 2 (Alexsander 5) 45+2'
LDN -- Connor Presley 2 (Bryang Kayo 1) 87'

Misconduct Summary:
LDN -- Griffin Yow (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45+1'

Shots 16 16
Shots on Goal 7 9
Saves 4 7
Fouls 13 11
Offsides 1 1
Corner Kicks 8 6

Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee: Justin Mack
Assistant Referee: Matthew Seem
Fourth Official: Velimir Stefanovic