The Swope Park Rangers (3-13-6, 15 points) fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat to Atlanta United 2 (5-13-5, 20 points) at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, Georgia on Friday night. Jackson Conway and a Jake Davis own goal put the hosts into a 2-0 lead, before Davis responded to provide an excellent assist for Wilson Harris to pull a goal back late for SPR.
The hosts were the first to threaten as Atlanta United FC loanee Andrew Carleton saw a curling effort well saved by John Pulskamp, who tipped the ball around the post in the fourth minute.
The Rangers responded well and Ayyoub Allach tested Brendan Moore in the Atlanta goal with a stinging effort from distance in the 14th minute, before Will Reilly’s cross was headed wide by Conway for Atlanta five minutes later.
The best chance of the first half fell to Ethan Vanacore-Decker as Allach freed the Rangers striker behind the Atlanta backline with a quick free kick, but Vanacore-Decker slammed his effort wide with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Ze Pedro, who scored on his debut for SPR last week, was next in line to test Moore with an effort from distance in the 25th minute, before leading scorer Felipe Hernandez also forced the Atlanta gloveman into a save from the edge of the area two minutes later.
Portuguese winger Ze Pedro was causing Atlanta fits and almost opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when he wriggled out of multiple challenges to open up a shooting opportunity inside the ATL area, but Moore was once again well positioned to make the stop as the two sides headed into the halftime interval with no score.
In the 58th minute, Atlanta found the breakthrough. Luiz Fernando curled in a sumptuous cross from the left wing that found Conway behind the Rangers backline, and the striker finished with aplomb to make the score 1-0.
The Rangers responded well as Vanacore-Decker saw an effort deflected narrowly wide in the 66th minute, before Allach’s through ball narrowly evaded Mark Segbers run inside the area seven minutes later.
Moments after that missed opportunity, Atlanta doubled their lead as a free kick into the area was headed into his own net by substitute Davis.
Davis, a Sporting KC Academy product, responded remarkably well to the setback and first fired narrowly wide from a tight angle in the 78th minute before winning a penalty for his side three minutes later.
Fellow Academy player Kaveh Rad found Davis’ run into the area with a long ball over the top, allowing the 17-year-old to show terrific quality to bring the ball down over his shoulder before being bundled over in the area. However, Alexsander stepped up to take the penalty kick and saw his effort saved by Moore in the Atlanta goal.
Undeterred, Davis won a ball in midfield in the 87th minute and slid a perfectly weighted through ball to fellow sub and Academy product Harris who struck a low shot on goal that squirmed beneath Moore and into the back of the net to cut Atlanta’s lead to 2-1.
The Rangers piled on the pressure in stoppage time but was unable to find a second goal as the side fell to 0-9-2 on the road in 2019.
The Rangers return home next weekend for a clash with top-of-the-table New York Red Bulls II at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday, Aug. 24 with kickoff set for 7 p.m. CT. The match will be streamed live on ESPN+, while tickets are available via SeatGeek.com.
2019 USL Championship
Game 22 of 34
Fifth Third Bank Stadium | Kennesaw, Georgia
Weather: 87 degrees and sunny
|Swope Park Rangers (3-13-6, 15 points)||0||1||1|
|Atlanta United 2 (5-13-5, 20 points)||0||2||2|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley, Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach, Felipe Hernandez (C), Gedion Zelalem (Jake Davis 61’); Ze Pedro (Wilson Harris 80’), Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Tyler Freeman (Mark Segbers 61’)
Subs Not Used: Max Trejo, Rennico Clarke, Killian Colombie, Jerome Ngom Mbekeli
Atlanta United 2: Brendan Moore; George Campbell (Garrison Tubbs 52’), Tyler Ruthven, George Bello; Andrew Carleton (Kevin Kratz 62’), Jack Metcalf (C), Luiz Fernando (Brandon Vazquez 62’), William Reilly, Laurence Wyke; Bienvenue Kanakimana, Jackson Conway
Subs Not Used: Paul Christensen, Alessandro Castro, Laurent Kissiedou, Jordan Matthews
ATL – Jackson Conway 5 (Luiz Fernando 2) 58’
ATL – Jake Davis (Own Goal) 74’
SPR – Wilson Harris 3 (Jake Davis 2) 87’
ATL – George Campbell (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 34’
ATL – George Bello (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 36’
SPR – Camden Riley (Yellow Card; Unsporting Behavior) 94+
|Shots on Goal||7||3|
Referee: JJ Bilinski
Assistant Referee: Jeffrey Swartzel
Assistant Referee: Zeno Gyuho Cho
Fourth Official: Larry Pachon