The Swope Park Rangers (2-9-6, 12 points) welcome Hartford Athletic (3-12-4, 13 points) to world-class Children’s Mercy Park for a midweek match on Wednesday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. CT and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office beginning at 5 p.m.
As always, the game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and in-game updates will be posted to the USL Championship MatchCenter. Fans can also follow @SwopeRangers on Twitter for live updates throughout the contest.
After a week-long hiatus, the Swope Park Rangers will close out their three-game homestand Wednesday night. Head coach Paulo Nagamura, now halfway through his second season, is looking to bounce his team back after a loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 7. SPR have earned 10 of their 12 points at home this season and will be looking to add to that total on Wednesday.
This will be the inaugural meeting between these two clubs as Hartford Athletic is new to the USL Championship. Someone who is not new to professional soccer in the U.S. and should be a familiar face to every Kansas City soccer fan is the head coach of Hartford, Jimmy Nielsen. The former Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper and MLS Cup champion served as head coach of OKC Energy FC from 2014-2017 before taking on his role at Hartford. He is now the first head coach in Hartford Athletic history.
Hartford is coming into this match off a big win after knocking off Indy Eleven—who were in second place at the time—in front of a sold-out crowd in newly renovated Dillon Stadium. That was their third win of the season and the three points they earned from it allowed them to jump the Rangers in the standings.
Leading all Rangers in scoring is midfielder Felipe Hernandez with seven goals. The Sporting KC Academy product will be available for selection after serving his red card suspension against Tampa Bay, which saw Ethan Vanacore-Decker score his third goal of the year in a 3-1 loss. Assist machine Alexsander still leads the Rangers with five. Killian Colombie has three assists, while Hernandez and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli each have two.
Hartford is lead in scoring by forward Jose Angulo. The former USL Championship Golden Boot winner has scored four this season. In 2013 he scored 23, a USL record. Hartford’s second-leading scorer is defender Harry Swartz with three.
Five Hartford players are tied for the team lead in assists. Midfielder Danny Barrera, forwards Hugh Alexander Dixon and Wojciech Wojcik, Kansas City native Raymond Lee and Angulo all have two assists. Several other players have one assist for Hartford. Among them is goalkeeper and former Sporting Kansas City player Jon Kempin, who joined Hartford on loan from Columbus Crew SC for two games earlier this season.
The Swope Park Rangers get their leading scorer back in this one, so look for Hernandez (seven goals, two assists) to come back with a vengeance against Hartford. Hernandez has scored in his last two appearances and will be looking to grow his goal total on Wednesday.
Another player to watch is Alexsander (one goal, five assists). The left back has started in 16 straight games and been a superb source of attacking out of the back. He has been sitting on five assists since he bagged two against Loudoun United on June 5. That’s not for a lack of attempts, as he leads the team with 38 crosses and a crossing accuracy of 31.6%. Fans should look out for the Brazilian as he will look to provide width in the attacking third for the Rangers.
USL Championship: Game 18 of 34
Date: Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
Live Stream: ESPN+
Swope Park Rangers: 2-9-6 (12 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Hartford Athletic: 3-12-4 (13 points, 17th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None