The Swope Park Rangers (5-16-7, 22 points) secured their third straight result after battering Charlotte Independence (5-14-11, 26 points) 3-0 on the road at Sportsplex at Matthews Stadium on Saturday night. The convincing victory marked SPR’s third straight clean sheet and first road win of 2019.
Sporting KC Academy products Wilson Harris, Felipe Hernandez and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal shined against Charlotte throughout the night. Harris scored his first goal in the 29th minute, then got his brace on the other side of the half in the 57th minute. Hernandez assisted on Harris’ second goal with a sensational through ball. Kuzain effectively iced the game with a goal in the 87th minute.
The game got off to a hot start when Jaylin Lindsey was shown a yellow card in the first minute. On the ensuing free kick, Enzo Martinez nearly snatched an early lead for Charlotte but he was denied by the crossbar. Charlotte would continue to attack but 18-year-old goalkeeper John Pulskamp was ready. The next three shots on target came from the Independence but Pulskamp stood his ground and kept the hosts off the board.
Ze Pedro put the first two shots on goal for SPR, but Brandon Miller was ready and denied the Portuguese winger on both occasions. Miller would not fare quite as well in the 29th against Harris. The forward gained control of the ball in the midfield and made a beeline for goal. He shielded the ball superbly and created enough space to place a bouncing shot past Miller’s legs.
The hosts would respond with a flurry of crosses into dangerous areas and a headed attempt on goal from Martinez in the 42nd minute. The Rangers defense and Pulskamp would not yield and took a one-goal advantage into the break.
Charlotte looked to shake things up when they brought on another attack-minded player in Alex Martinez immediately following halftime. This provided Hernandez and the other SPR midfielders space to roam as they consistently got running at the Independence backline. Hernandez nearly doubled the visitors’ lead in the 56th minute but pulled his shot wide. He made up for it a minute later when he assisted Harris’ second goal.
The second goal took the wind out of Charlotte’s sail for a while as SPR looked to bury them beneath a three-goal deficit. Hernandez nearly succeeded in the 64th minute when he sent a knuckleball towards the face of goal. The shot’s movement really tied up Miller, who was forced into an awkward save with his elbows.
The pace of the game slowed dramatically after Hernandez’s tricky shot. Alex Martinez went into the books in the 71st and Ayyoub Allach followed suit in the 73rd with a yellow card of his own.
As the contest inched closer to the conclusion Harris was looking for his hat trick. It continually eluded him but in the 87th his efforts resulted in Kuzain burring the Independence with a rebound goal.
Charlotte still had some fight in them and earned a penalty kick in stoppage time. Jorge Herrera stepped up to the spot hoping to pull one back, but got under the ball and skied it over the goal. Pulskamp and SPR would hold onto their clean sheet despite the late PK scare.
The Rangers will look to extend their three-game shutout streak Wednesday at Segra Field against Loudon United FC (6-15-6, 24 points). Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.
2019 USL Championship
Game 28 of 34
Sportsplex at Matthews | Matthews, North Carolina
Weather: 87 degrees and sunny
|Swope Park Rangers (5-16-7, 22 points)||1||2||3|
|Charlotte Independence (5-14-11, 26 points)||0||0||0|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Camden Riley, Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach, Felipe Hernandez (C), Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal (Rassambek Akhmatov 88'); Tucker Lepley (Mark Segbers 90'), Wilson Harris, Ze Pedro (Tyler Freeman 76')
Subs Not Used: Max Trejo, Luis Olivera, Killian Colombie, Ethan Vanacore-Decker
Charlotte Independence: Brandon Miller; Brendan McDonough, Hugh Roberts (Alex Martinez 46'), Steven Thicot, Clay Dimick; Valentin Sabella (Zyen Jones 58'), Kevan George, Ricardo Bocanegra (Dominic Oduro 74'), Abdoulie Mansally; Jorge Herrera, Enzo Martinez (C)
Subs Not Used: Brandon Barnes, Aaron Maund, Chad Poarch
SPR -- Wilson Harris 7 (unassisted) 29'
SPR -- Wilson Harris 8 (Felipe Hernandez 4) 57'
SPR -- Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal 1 (unassisted) 87'
SPR -- Jaylin Lindsey (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 1'
CLT -- Alex Martinez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 71'
SPR -- Ayyoub Allach (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 73'
|Shots on Goal||8||6|
Referee: Danielle Chesky
Assistant Referee: Francisco Bermudez
Assistant Referee: Jordan Davis
Fourth Official: Frank English