The Swope Park Rangers picked up their second win of the season with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over cross-state rivals Saint Louis FC at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday afternoon. Felipe Hernandez continued his fine season with his seventh goal of the campaign before being shown a late red card, while Ethan Vanacore-Decker notched his second of the year to give the Rangers all three points. The result sees the Rangers improve to 2-8-6 (12 points) on the season.
Ayyoub Allach was the first player to threaten for the hosts, as he lined up an effort from 30 yards that skipped narrowly wide of Tomas Gomez’s right-hand post in the fifth minute. Seven minutes later, Academy product Kaveh Rad sprung Ethan Vanacore-Decker over the top with an excellent pass, only for the forward’s shot to slam into the side-netting.
The visitors nearly took the lead in the 13th minute as Lewis Hilton’s close-range strike was blocked by his own teammate, Kyle Greig, about five yards from goal. Saint Louis went even closer in the 20th minute as Greig’s glancing header came off the inside of the post and bounced across the face of goal.
The Rangers took the lead moments after that scare, as Wan Kuzain forced a turnover in midfield and fed Felipe Hernandez, who dribbled at the Saint Louis backline and fired home a low shot from 25 yards that nestled into the bottom corner for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.
The Rangers kept pushing and had a flurry of activity around the Saint Louis box in the minutes after the goal, as first Hernandez was snuffed out with just the last defender to beat before Jerome Ngom Mbekeli had a thunderous attempt blocked expertly by Gomez after cutting in from the left wing.
Saint Louis should have found themselves level in the 32nd minute when Kadeem Dacres’ cross found Albert Dikwa alone in front of goal, but he conspired to place his side-footed shot inches wide of the post. Moments later, Dikwa whipped in a cross from the right wing to Greig, but his acrobatic attempt bounced well wide of the target.
In first-half stoppage time, Rangers goalkeeper John Pulskamp was forced into his first real action of the game, producing a stunning stop from close range to deny Hilton who was clean through on goal.
Four minutes into the second half, Kuzain tried his luck from distance and almost caught Gomez out with a well-struck shot that was creeping toward the corner, only for the Saint Louis ‘keeper to sprawl to his right and claw the ball away.
It was becoming a battle of two goalkeepers as Pulskamp was subsequently called into action in the 69th minute, getting down low to his left to make a smart stop on Dacres’ daisy-cutter.
Sporting KC Academy product Sean Karani entered the game as a substitute in the 75th minute and almost punctuated his performance with a goal within a minute of coming on, as his effort from the edge of the area deflected agonizingly wide of the post.
Saint Louis finally found the equalizer in the 78th minute when Dacres beat Mark Segbers to a Paris Gee cross at the far post and placed a bullet header beyond Pulskamp, leaving the SPR goalkeeper with no chance to even the score at 1-1.
Following a frantic few minutes, the Rangers retook the lead in the 82nd minute, as Hernandez led a rapid counter attack and almost snatched his second goal of the game off Segbers’ cross, only for the ball to squirm away from him leaving Vanacore-Decker alone to smash the ball into the corner and give the home side a 2-1 lead.
The game descended into madness as the clock ticked into stoppage time, as Bradley Fewo went after Hernandez following a foul by Segbers resulting in Hernandez being sent off while Fewo was allowed to remain on the field with only a yellow card.
The Rangers remain at home next weekend to take on Eastern Conference leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday, July 7 with kickoff set for 4 p.m. CT. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+, while tickets are available via SeatGeek.com.
2019 USL Championship
Game 16 of 34
Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, KS
Weather: 90 degrees and sunny
|Swope Park Rangers (2-8-6, 12 points)||1||1||2|
|Saint Louis FC (5-4-5, 20 points)||0||1||1|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Mark Segbers, Kaveh Rad, Graham Smith (C), Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach, Wan Kuzain (Rassambek Akhmatov 81’), Felipe Hernandez; Will Little (Camden Riley 58’), Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (Sean Karani 75’)
Subs Not Used: Brooks Thompson, Killian Colombie, Tyler Freeman, Wilson Harris
Saint Louis FC: Tomas Gomez; Sean Reynolds, Sam Fink (C) (Paris Gee 46’), Phanuel Kavita, Bradley Fewo; Austin Martz, Guy Abend (Oscar Umar 50’), Lewis Hilton, Kadeem Dacres; Albert Dikwa, Kyle Greig (Caleb Calvert 77’)
Subs Not Used: Jake Fenlason, Matt Bahner, Matt Thomas
SPR – Felipe Hernandez 7 (Wan Kuzain 1) 21’
STL – Kadeem Dacres 2 (Paris Gee 1) 78’
SPR – Ethan Vanacore-Decker 2 (Unassisted) 82’
SPR – Graham Smith (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 45’
STL – Austin Martz (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 48+
SPR – Jerome Ngom Mbekeli (Yellow Card; Persistent Infringement) 69’
SPR – Felipe Hernandez (Red Card; Violent Conduct) 90’
SPR – Mark Segbers (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 90’
STL – Bradley Fewo (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 91+
|Shots on Goal||4||3|
Referee: Lorant Varga
Assistant Referee: Jack Ryan-Feldman
Assistant Referee: Matthew Rodman
Fourth Official: Don Tebeau