The Swope Park Rangers (3-10-6, 15 points) will host Nashville SC (10-5-5, 35 points) at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. CT and tickets are available at SeatGeek.com or at the stadium box office starting at 5 p.m. CT.
Paulo Nagamura brings the Rangers into the home game with a .500 record at Children’s Mercy Park. Saturday’s match will be SPR's first at home since July 17. It will also be the second and final USL Championship regular season matchup between SPR and MLS-bound Nashville. In their first meeting, SPR’s all-time leading scorer Kharlton Belmar scored against his former club en route to a 5-1 Nashville win. In his homecoming game, Nashville native Felipe Hernandez scored his third goal of the season for the visitors.
The Rangers have been in good form recently. They have two wins in their last three games at home and continue to serve as a valuable piece of Sporting's pipeline to the pros. Fifteen Sporting KC Academy products have played for the Rangers this season and a total of 19 have rostered. Thirteen Sporting KC first team players have given the Rangers valuable minutes this season as well.
SPR has made two big acquisitions this week. On Monday, the club inked 22-year-old Portuguese winger Ze Pedro. He came up through the academy of European giants FC Porto and will provide the Rangers depth on the wing. The club followed that up Tuesday by signing 23-year-old Jamaican defender Rennico Clarke. He spent time with the Portland Timbers and recorded an assist for the first team in the 2017 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Most recently, he was playing for Harbour View in Jamaica but will now be a welcome backline addition.
On top of the scorer’s sheet for the Rangers is Hernandez. The Sporting KC Academy product has scored eight goals and is one of six players to amass over 1,000 minutes. Second on the team in scoring is Ethan Vanacore-Decker, who has put the ball in the back of net three times.
All season long, the Rangers have been an excellent passing side. They have a passing accuracy of 82% which is the best in the Eastern Conference. Arguably the best ball distributor on the team is defender Alexsander. He leads the team with five assists and has started every game but one for the Rangers.
Nashville comes into Kansas City on a two-game winning streak. Led by coach Gary Smith, who won an MLS Cup with the Colorado Rapids, Nashville is looking to continue to make moves towards the top of the Eastern Conference. In their last time out, they defeated Indy Eleven 2-0 in front of a crowd of over 13,000.
Three players for Nashville, namely Belmar, Liam Doyle and Lebo Moloto, all contributed to the Rangers' 2017 run to the USL Cup Final. Nashville’s technical director, Mike Jacobs, served as Sporting’s Assistant Technical Director from 2015-2017.
Nobody has scored more goals for Nashville than Daniel Rios. The forward has been one of the most prolific scorer in the USL Championship, netting 13 goals. He is only one back of Phoenix Rising’s Solomon Asante in the Golden Boot race. Former Ranger Moloto has accumulated seven assists. That is also good for second in the USL Championship behind Asante.
USL Championship: Game 20 of 34
Date: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
Location: Children’s Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)
Live Stream: ESPN+
Swope Park Rangers: 3-10-6 (15 points, 16th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Nashville SC: 10-5-5 (35 points, 5th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None