The Swope Park Rangers (3-11-6, 15 points) fell to a 2-0 defeat against Nashville SC (11-5-5, 38 points) at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night. Former Rangers midfielder Lebo Moloto gave the visitors the lead in the first half, before setting up Daniel Rios for his 14th goal of the campaign early in the second period to seal the result for Nashville.
It took until the 23rd minute for the first real moment of action as former SPR standouts Moloto and Kharlton Belmar linked up to good effect for the visitors. Moloto’s free kick from wide found Belmar alone in the area, but the striker’s effort was expertly palmed away by Adrian Zendejas, who then showed his agility by smothering Rios’ close-range rebound.
Nashville went close again in the 32nd minute when Zendejas gave up possession just outside his area but Rios was unable to find the target with the goal gaping from all of 20 yards. In the 38th minute, Nashville rattled the post with a well taken shot on the turn from Rios on the edge of the area, before the striker snuck in behind and lofted a finish over the bar when in all alone just moments later.
Nashville took the lead in the 43rd minute as the two former SPR attackers again linked up, this time with Belmar feeding Moloto on the edge of the area and the South African stroked a lovely finish into the bottom corner to give the visitors a 1-0 lead going in the halftime interval.
The Rangers came out with a purpose in the second half and a sumptuous curling ball from the outside of his left foot from Alexsander found Will Little behind the Nashville backline, but his effort sliced wide of the target.
It proved to be a costly miss as Nashville added their second goal of the game just seconds later. Moloto turned from goalscorer to provider as he slipped in Rios with a delicate pass, and the forward made no mistake, burying his finish beyond Zendejas to make the score 2-0 with his 14th goal of the USL Championship season.
The bright spot for the Rangers and Sporting KC came in the 60th minute when defender Jaylin Lindsey made his return to the field after a lengthy injury layoff following meniscus surgery in March.
The two sides exchanged blows for the remainder of the game but neither side mustered any clear-cut opportunities as the clock ticked to the closure of the game, allowing Nashville to close out their third straight victory, and condemn the Rangers to defeat.
The Rangers hit the road next weekend to take on the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Highmark Stadium in Pennsylvania on Saturday, Aug. 10 with kickoff set for 6 p.m. CT. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+.
2019 USL Championship
Game 20 of 34
Children’s Mercy Park | Kansas City, KS
Weather: 86 degrees and sunny
|Swope Park Rangers (3-11-6, 15 points)||0||0||0|
|Nashville SC (11-5-5, 38 points)||1||1||2|
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Mark Segbers (Jerome Ngom Mbekeli 33’), Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley, Alexsander; Gedion Zelalem (Ayyoub Allach 76’), Felipe Hernandez, Roger Espinoza (C); Will Little (Jaylin Lindsey 60’), Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Killian Colombie
Subs Not Used: John Pulskamp, Dylan Hooper, Wan Kuzain, Wilson Harris
Nashville SC: Matt Pickens; Kosuke Kimura, Forrest Lasso, Jimmy Ockford, Taylor Washington; Bolu Akinyode, Michael Reed (C), Alan Winn (Ropapa Mensah 71’), Lebo Moloto (Ken Tribbett 87’), Kharlton Belmar; Daniel Rios (Tucker Hume 83’)
Subs Not Used: Connor Sparrow, Justin Davis, Darnell King, Matt LaGrassa
NSH – Lebo Moloto 3 (Kharlton Belmar 2) 43’
NSH – Daniel Rios 14 (Lebo Moloto 8) 47’
SPR – Alexsander (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 66’
SPR – Ayyoub Allach (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 81
|Shots on Goal||0||4|
Referee: Farhad Dadkho
Assistant Referee: Jeffrey Swartzel
Assistant Referee: Matthew Seem
Fourth Official: James Cody