Preview: Upstart Rangers visit last-place Hartford Athletic on Saturday

Boasting a 3-1-1 record in their last five USL Championships matches, the upstart Swope Park Rangers (6-17-7, 25 points) will hit the road to face Hartford Athletic (6-21-4, 22 points) on Saturday in a battle between the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference. Kickoff at Dillon Stadium is slated for 6 p.m. CT and supporters can catch Saturday's contest streaming live on ESPN Plus. The USL Championship Match Center and @SwopeRangers on Twitter will provide additional in-game updates.

Saturday’s fixture boasts a distinct Sporting Kansas City flavor as both head coaches, SPR’s Paulo Nagamura and Hartford’s Jimmy Nielsen, go head-to-head after helping the MLS club to the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title and the 2013 MLS Cup as integral players.

The Rangers earned a convincing 3-1 home win over playoff hopefuls Birmingham Legion FC on Monday at Children’s Mercy Park, receiving a back-heel stunner from red-hot striker Wilson Harris before Ayyoub Allach added a penalty kick and Ze Pedro bagged his third goal of the campaign.

The 19-year-old Harris now has a team-best 10 goals this season, tied for the most among teenage players in the 2019 USL Championship. Eight of his 10 tallies have come in SPR's last nine matches, underlining the impressiveness of his recent surge. The Sporting KC Academy product struck in the seventh minute on Monday, converting Alexsander’s cross from the left wing with a deft back-heel at the near post that flew into the corner beyond Birmingham goalkeeper Matt VanOekel.

Expansion side Hartford has endured a challenging first season and currently sits at the bottom of the East, but the side notably earned a 5-1 win over Loudoun United FC on Sept. 7 and will have the luxury of playing their final three games at newly renovated Dillon Stadium.

The clubs first met on July 17 at Children's Mercy Park, battling out a seven-goal thriller that saw SPR prevail by a 4-3 scoreline. Influential midfielder Felipe Hernandez buried eighth goal of the year and 16-year-old Tyler Freeman opened his professional scoring account as SPR held off a late Hartford rally in a barnburner played amidst scorching conditions.

Match Information

USL Championship: Game 31 of 34
Date: Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Dillon Stadium (Hartford, Connecticut)

Swope Park Rangers: 6-17-7 (25 points, 17th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City

Hartford Athletic: 6-21-4 (22 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: None

ESPN Plus Live Stream: Click here
USL Championship MatchCenter: Click here
Match Notes: Click here

Game-specific hashtag: #HFDvSPR

Swope Park Rangers

Hartford Athletic