Two MLS-affiliated USL Championship sides will face off when the Swope Park Rangers (3-12-6, 15 points) go down to Georgia to face Atlanta United 2 (4-13-5, 17 points) at Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Friday night.
The first meeting of these teams produced an excellent contest that ended in a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Park on May 19. Felipe Hernandez gave the Rangers the lead early, scoring his fourth goal of the season in the second minute. SPR would hold onto that cushion until the 68th minute when Laurence Wyke scored a half volley and evened the score. The teams would trade shots for the next 20 minutes but neither side could find the back of the net.
Paulo Nagamura leads the Rangers into another road match after battling in Pittsburgh last Saturday. A pair of Rangers players opened their scoring accounts for the club last week. Gedion Zelalem buried his penalty kick, and Ze Pedro curled the ball around the keeper in a dream debut for SPR. The Rangers would end up losing 3-2 in yet another highly competitive match.
First-year head coach Stephen Glass and Atlanta will want to have a short memory after their last match. After beating Loudon United FC at home earlier this month, they traveled to two-time defending champion Louisville City FC last Sunday and left on the wrong side of a 5-1 scoreline.
Hernandez still leads all Rangers in goals scored. The Sporting KC Academy product has netted eight goals for SPR. Second in scoring is forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker with three. Leading the way in assists is left back Alexsander. He’s accumulated five so far and ranks eighth in the USL Championship with 1,176 passes completed.
Atlanta’s top scorer is midfielder Bienvenue Kanakimana with six goals. Seventeen-year-old forward Jackson Conway is second in goals with four. Atlanta also ranks second in the USL Championship in goals conceded with 54. They also have a goal differential of minus-30.
Ze Pedro is a player who can take advantage of a team that is experiencing defensive struggles. After scoring in his debut, he will look to look to keep that momentum going. Hernandez is another player who is making his mark for the Rangers. He loves playing an aggressive style of soccer and putting defenses under pressure.
USL Championship: Game 22 of 34
Date: Friday, Aug. 16, 2019
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. CT
Location: Fifth Third Bank Stadium (Kennesaw, Georgia)
Live Stream: ESPN Plus
Swope Park Rangers: 3-12-6 (15 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Atlanta United 2: 4-13-5 (17 points, 16th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Atlanta United FC