Preview: Rangers aim for second straight result Saturday vs. North Carolina FC

The Swope Park Rangers (3-16-7, 16 points) and North Carolina FC (13-7-8, 47 points) will square off Saturday at world-class Children’s Mercy Park, meeting for the second time this season as the 2019 USL Championship campaign rolls toward the fall. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. CT and tickets for the Eastern Conference clash are available at or at the stadium box office beginning at 2 p.m. CT on matchday.

Supporters can catch Saturday's contest streaming live on ESPN Plus, while the USL Championship Match Center and @SwopeRangers on Twitter will provide additional live updates. Fans will also have the opportunity to win an exclusive prize prize package courtesy of Smile Generation—including an electric toothbrush plus an SPR scarf, beanie, bobblehead and more—by using the hashtag #RangersSmile on Twitter.

Led by second-year head coach and former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura, the Rangers scraped to a scoreless home draw against Charleston Battery on Wednesday to snap a seven-game losing skid and collect their first point since July 17. The hosts nearly found a breakthrough goal on multiple occasions, with Wilson Harris heading inches wide and Felipe Hernandez rattling the woodwork in the first half, but the club’s first clean sheet since June 8 was enough to register a point.

SPR's youth movement was on full display Wednesday, as Nagamura's starting lineup averaged just 20 years of age. Seven Sporting KC Academy products earned starts—namely Harris, Hernandez, Tyler Freeman, Tucker Lepley, Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal.

Hernandez has starred for the Rangers throughout 2019, using eight goals, three assists and several dominant midfield performances to land himself an MLS Homegrown contract with Sporting Kansas City. Elsewhere, Brazilian left back Alexsander has tabbed a team-best five assists and Harris has recorded five goals of his own.

Under the guidance of former U.S. Men’s National Team assistant Dave Sarachan, North Carolina FC are well on their way to a playoff appearance in their second USL Championship season. A recent blip has seen the side claim just one point from three matches, however, and the visitors will be eager to return to winning ways in Kansas City.

North Carolina FC claimed a 2-0 home victory in the first battle between the sides on June 15, receiving goals within the first 15 minutes from Andre Fortune and Yamikani Chester. Fortune is tied for second on the team with seven strikes on the year, two behind versatile attacker Steven Miller's nine. Miller also leads the side with six assists, although chief playmaking duties fall on the shoulders of Ben Speas. The former MLS veteran has 58 chances created, tied for eighth in the USL Championship and 26 more than any other North Carolina FC player.

Match Information

USL Championship: Game 27 of 34
Date: Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019
Kickoff: 4 p.m. CT
Location: Children's Mercy Park (Kansas City, Kansas)

Swope Park Rangers: 3-16-7 (16 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City

North Carolina FC: 13-7-8 (47 points, 6th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None

ESPN+ Live Stream Link: Click here
USL Championship MatchCenter: Click here
Match Notes: Click here

Game-specific hashtag: #SPRvNC

Swope Park Rangers

North Carolina FC