The Swope Park Rangers (1-7-5, 8 points) go on the road for the first time in the month of June to face off against North Carolina FC (6-2-5, 23 points) at Sahlen’s Stadium on Saturday. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and the USL Championship MatchCenter will have in game updates throughout the contest. Fans can also follow @SwopeRangers on Twitter for live updates.
Paulo Nagamura enters his second year as Rangers head coach. SPR enters the match with just one point in six road games. They find themselves in 18th place in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship, but are only six points shy of the playoff line. If the Rangers can find a way to turn these competitive draws into wins, they’ll find themselves right in the playoff mix as the club nears the midpoint of the season.
After a scoreless draw with Charlotte Independence in their last game, Felipe Hernandez still leads the Rangers in goals with five. Wilson Harris and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli are second with two apeice. Eight other players have scored for SPR. Brazilian left back Alexsander leads the team with five assists, which is also good for fifth in the USL Championship. Killian Colombie, Hernandez and Mbekeli are all tied for second in assists with two apiece.
Former United States Men’s National Team head coach Dave Sarachan has kicked off his stint at North Carolina FC with some success. Sarachan has a storied history, winning an MLS Supporter’s Shield and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the Fire in 2003. He has brought those winning ways to North Carolina so far. They find themselves in the upper third of the Eastern Conference and have suffered only two losses in the USL Championship. Both of their defeats have come on the road.
In North Carolina's last league match, they delivered the first-place Tampa Bay Rowdies their first loss of the season with a 3-1 win. On Wednesday, they faced off with MLS side New York City FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. They were knocked out of the competition, however, as they suffered a 4-0 defeat.
Leading all North Carolina scorers is forward Marios Lomis. He has found the back of the net six times in 11 appearances. Close behind with four is midfielder Steven Miller, who has scored his four goals in 13 appearances. Miller and fellow forward Benjamin Speas lead North Carolina with three assists.
As the halfway point of the USL Championship season approaches, the Rangers have placed an emphasis on youth and professional development. Thirteen players who have minutes for the Rangers have also been rostered by Sporting Kansas City. Most recently, Hernandez and Camden Riley were called up for Sporting’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match with Minnesota United FC on Wednesday night.
Mark Segbers (one goal, one assist) continues to be a great asset on the back line for the Rangers. He is the only Ranger to appear in every match and has given the Rangers over 1,000 minutes this season, starting all games but the first. Alexsander (one goal, five assists) has also given the Rangers excellent minutes. He has also been on the field for over 1,000 minutes. The speedy Brazilian has superb speed and uses it to provide the Rangers with width going forward. The two wing backs have played well together and will look to bring this experience into the game with North Carolina.
USL Championship: Game 14 of 34
Date: Saturday, June 15, 2019
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT
Location: Sahlen’s Stadium (Cary, North Carolina)
Live Stream: ESPN+
Swope Park Rangers: 1-7-5 (8 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Charlotte Independence: 6-2-5 (23 points, 6th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None