Rangers winger Ze Pedro reflects on impressive USL Championship debut

It didn’t take long for Ze Pedro to make a positive impact in a Swope Park Rangers uniform.

The 22-year-old Portuguese winger went the full 90 minutes in his USL Championship debut Saturday night at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, punctuating a strong performance with a superb strike in the 67th minute that cut SPR’s deficit in half.

The Rangers wound up on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline at Highmark Stadium, but Ze Pedro’s contributions on Saturday suggest that SPR has acquired a key attacking piece for the stretch run of the 2019 campaign.

“I felt very motivated and anxious, but always with a positive mindset,” Ze Pedro said of his maiden SPR match. “I enjoyed making my first appearance in the USL Championship, and even though unfortunately our team did not get the result we were looking for, I felt it was a successful debut for me."

Ze Pedro’s moment of magic midway through the second half, a left-footed curler from just beyond the top of the box, made the score 3-2 and set up a tense finale as the Eastern Conference sizzled to a close.

"It felt very good to score as it always does, but to score in my debut is a very special feeling,” Ze Pedro said.

Among the objectives for Ze Pedro moving forward is to integrate seamlessly into the SPR squad and adapt to life in Kansas City. He developed in the academy of European powerhouse FC Porto before competing professionally for multiple Portuguese clubs. Needless to say, moving to the United States represents a major change in his life.

"My adaptation was a little difficult at first due to the major differences between Europe and America, but over time with the help of my colleagues and my family in particular, I managed to gradually adapt. Now I am much more relaxed and comfortable,” Ze Pedro said. “The city of Kansas City also helps, as it is a calm and peaceful city, and the people are very warm and receptive."

"My goals in the U.S. are to play as many matches as possible in the USL Championship and eventually reach the MLS level."