The Swope Park Rangers (3-15-6, 15 points) suffered a 2-0 defeat at Bethlehem Steel FC (7-13-5, 26 points) on Sunday night at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. The hosts struck in either half through Michee Ngalina and Zach Zandi to deliver SPR their sixth straight loss.
The hosts threatened twice inside 10 minutes with midfielder Issa Rayyan pulling the strings. The Philadelphia Union academy product first teed up 15-year-old Anges Kader Bohui—who fired inches over the bar from close range—before prompting John Pulskamp into a solid save with a long-distance piledriver.
Rangers assistant Chris Martinez presided over the squad Sunday as head coach Paulo Nagamura served a one-game touchline suspension. He saw his side carve out its first chance in the 22nd minute when captain Felipe Hernandez, who had signed an MLS contract as Sporting Kansas City’s 12th Homegrown Player on Friday, picked out Ze Pedro at the top of the box. The skillful Portuguese forward hammered goalward, but it lacked the direction to beat Bethlehem keeper Todd Morton.
Ze Pedro was on the receiving end of another chance six minutes later, latching onto a well-delivered Wilson Harris cross, but his first-time effort near the penalty spot sailed high. At the opposite end, Ngalina vaulted Bethlehem ahead in the 36th minute on a wonderfully struck free kick, picking out the right corner from 22 yards for his fifth goal of the 2019 campaign.
SPR went agonizingly close to replying shortly thereafter when Ze Pedro clipped a ball up for Rennico Clarke, whose header was palmed away by Morton. Ayyoub Allach was on hand for the rebound but lashed his effort over the crossbar.
The early stages of the second half belonged to SPR, who conjured two good looks in the space of three minutes. Ze Pedro ran at the defense and forced Morton into a diving stop before Harris had a tight-angle shot blocked by Steel captain Walter Cortes. The Rangers were nearly made to pay for their missed chances on the half-hour mark, but Jamoi Topey’s leaping header was cleared off the goal line by Ethan Vanacore-Decker.
Bethlehem doubled their advantage on 75 minutes when Zandi bagged his second goal of the Year. Rayyan weaved his way down the right side of the box before cutting it back to his teammate. Zandi’s initial attempt was blocked by Pulskamp, but he made no mistake on the rebound by poking home at point-blank range.
The Rangers outshot Bethlehem 20-8, putting five attempts on target, but none pierced the back of the net on a frustrating night in the Northeast.
SPR will conclude their two-game road swing Saturday when they visit Memphis 901 FC at AutoZone Park in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. CT and the match will stream live on ESPN Plus.
2019 USL Championship
Game 24 of 34
Talen Energy Stadium | Chester, Pennsylvania
Weather: 82 degrees and partly cloudy
|Swope Park Rangers (3-15-6, 15 points)||0||0||0|
|Bethlehem Steel FC (7-13-5, 26 points)||1||1||2|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Rennico Clarke, Killian Colombie (Mark Segbers 82'); Ayyoub Allach, Wan Kuzain (Rassambek Akhmatov 59'), Felipe Hernandez (C); Ze Pedro, Wilson Harris, Ethan Vanacore-Decker (Jerome Ngom Mbekeli 68')
Subs Not Used: Max Trejo, Dylan Hooper, Tucker Lepley, Tyler Freeman
Bethlehem Steel FC: Todd Morton; Nathan Harriel, Steve Kingue, Jamoi Topey, Walter Cortes (C); Issa Rayyan, Cole Turner (James Chambers 68'), Chavany Willis, Zachary Zandi; Michee Ngalina (Ben Ofeimu 86'), Anges Kader Bohui (Yomi Scintu 62')
Subs Not Used: Lukas Burns, Selmir Miscic, Axel Picazo, Shanyder Borgelin
BST -- Michee Ngalina (unassisted) 36'
BST -- Zach Zandi (unassisted) 75'
SPR -- Felipe Hernandez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 14'
BST -- Michee Ngalina (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 33'
SPR -- Ayyoub Allach (yellow card; time wasting) 34'
BST -- Jamoi Topey (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 39'
SPR -- Rennico Clarke (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 82'
BST -- Jamoi Topey (red card - second yellow; unsporting behavior) 84'
|Shots on Goal||5||4|
Referee: Eric Tattersall
Assistant Referee: Tom Felice
Assistant Referee: Brian Marshall
Fourth Official: Joshua Encarnacion