The 10-man Swope Park Rangers (6-18-8, 26 points) suffered a narrow 2-1 loss to Ottawa Fury FC (14-9-9, 51 points) on Tuesday night in the club’s 2019 home finale at Children’s Mercy Park. Ze Pedro’s superb volley drew SPR level in the 85th minute, canceling out a first-half penalty kick from Wal Fall, but playoff-bound Ottawa emerged victorious when former Rangers playmaker Kevin Oliveira buried an 89th-minute winner.
Perfect playing conditions provided the backdrop for a pedestrian start to proceedings, with Oliveira unleashing the game’s first shot on target in the ninth minute. Rangers goalkeeper John Pulskamp was equal to the task, making his first of seven saves in an impressive performance between the posts.
The complexion of the match changed drastically in the 45th minute when referee Gabriele Giusti issued a second yellow card to Rangers center back Rennico Clarke. The controversial decision reduced SPR to 10 men and afforded Fall the opportunity to smash a penalty kick past Pulskamp, giving Ottawa a 1-0 lead at the break.
Standout midfielder Felipe Hernandez entered as a halftime substitute and made an instant impact, teeing up Ze Pedro near the top of the box. The Portuguese’s booming strike was blocked through traffic as Giusti waved away the ardent penalty protestations of multiple SPR players.
At the opposite end, Christiano Francois threatened to double Ottawa’s advantage only to see his left-footed effort smothered by the sprawling Pulskamp midway through the second half. SPR’s 18-year-old keeper produced a stunning save shortly thereafter, denying Oliveira from close range.
SPR’s resilience was rewarded in the 85th minute when Ze Pedro thrashed a long-range volley into the gaping net after Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving had advanced off his line in a failed bid to clear the ball. The goal was Ze Pedro’s fourth of the campaign in just 10 USL Championship appearances since joining the side in August.
Ottawa had the last laugh, however, as Oliveira snuck in behind the SPR defense and finished coolly to give the visitors all three points and deny the Rangers their fourth straight result on home soil.
With their 2019 home slate in the rearview mirror, SPR will close out the season with road trips to Eastern Conference contenders Louisville City FC and Indy Eleven. First up is a visit to Louisville in a rematch of the 2017 USL Cup Final, with Saturday’s contest at Louisville Slugger Field slated for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN Plus.
2019 USL Championship
Game 32 of 34
Children's Mercy Park | Kansas City, Kansas
Weather: 64 degrees and clear
|Swope Park Rangers (6-18-8, 26 points)||0||1||1|
|Ottawa Fury FC (14-9-9, 51 points)||1||1||2|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Graham Smith (C), Rennico Clarke, Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach, Wan Kuzain (Mark Segbers 79'), Rassambek Akhmatov (Camden Riley 46'); Ze Pedro, Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Tyler Freeman (Felipe Hernandez 46')
Subs Not Used: Gavin Krenecki, Luis Olivera, Kaveh Rad, Tucker Lepley
Ottawa Fury FC: Callum Irving; Carl Haworth (C), Nana Attakora, Thomas Meilleur-Giguere, Onua Obasi; Jeremy Gagnon-Lapare, Charlie Ward (Chris Manella 86'), Wal Fall (Thiago 73'); Christiano Francois, Mour Samb (Hadji Barry 57'), Kevin Oliveira
Subs Not Used: David Monsalve, Aidan Daniels, Jamar Dixon
OTT -- Wal Fall 10 (penalty kick) 45+2'
SPR -- Ze Pedro 4 (unassisted) 85'
OTT -- Kevin Oliveira 6 (Hadji Barry 1) 90'
SPR -- Rassambek Akhmatov (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 24'
SPR -- Rennico Clarke (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 37'
SPR -- Rennico Clarke (red card, second yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45'
SPR -- Ze Pedro (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 50'
OTT -- Wal Fall (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 57'
SPR -- Wan Kuzain (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 62'
OTT -- Charlie Ward (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 82'
|Shots on Goal||1||9|
Referee: Gabriele Giusti
Assistant Referee: Brian Marshall
Assistant Referee: Truman Berghall
Fourth Official: Matt Miller