Ze Pedro, Gianluca Busio and Ethan Vanacore-Decker fired the Swope Park Rangers (6-19-8, 26 points) into a three-goal lead before Louisville City FC (16-8-9, 57 points) rallied to claim an 8-3 home victory on Saturday night at Louisville Slugger Field.
With both clubs playing their penultimate match of the 2019 USL Championship regular season, it was the Rangers who drew first blood after just seven minutes. Louisville defender Taylor Peay played a back-pass to goalkeeper Chris Hubbard, who was aggressively closed down by Ze Pedro. The Portuguese winger flung himself at Hubbard's attempted clearance, blocking the ball into the net for his fifth goal of the campaign and his second in as many games.
SPR were buzzing after the early strike and doubled their lead in stunning fashion when two Sporting Kansas City Academy products and current Homegrown Players combined in the 19th minute. Midfielder Felipe Hernandez marauded down the right flank, cutting past a defender and squaring the ball for Busio at the top of the box. The 17-year-old United States youth international, who will travel to Brazil later this month for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, made no mistake with a right-footed wurlitzer that caromed off the left post and past the helpless Hubbard.
Head coach Paulo Nagamura's side added a third in the 34th minute on a fine moment of magic from Ethan Vanacore-Decker, who placed a low piledriver across the goalkeeper and into the far left corner for his fourth tally of 2019. Ze Pedro notched an assist on the play, which proved to be SPR's final flash of positivity on the night.
Louisville responded with three goals in the space of six minutes to tie the game up at 3-3 before halftime. Napo Matsoso, Alexis Souahy and Antoine Hoppenot did the damage to bring the hosts level and set the stage for an unpleasant second half.
Brian Ownby completed Louisville's comeback with a 54th-minute tally and Magnus Rasmussen bagged a quick-fire brace midway through the period. Late substitutes Richard Ballard and George Davis IV rounded out the fireworks for a rampant Louisville side that claimed victory in its final regular season match at Louisville Slugger Field before moving into a new, soccer-specific venue in 2020.
The Rangers will conclude their 2019 USL Championship campaign on Wednesday, traveling to face playoff-bound Indy Eleven (18-9-6, 60 points) at Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the National Football League's Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. CT with a live stream on ESPN Plus.
2019 USL Championship
Game 33 of 34
Louisville Slugger Field | Louisville, Kentucky
Weather: 57 degrees and clear
|Swope Park Rangers (6-19-8, 26 points)||3||0||3|
|Louisville City FC (16-8-9, 57 points)||3||5||8|
Swope Park Rangers: John Pulskamp; Jaylin Lindsey, Kaveh Rad, Graham Smith (C), Alexsander; Ayyoub Allach (Wan Kuzain 63'), Felipe Hernandez (Jake Davis 80'), Gianluca Busio; Ze Pedro, Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Tyler Freeman (Tucker Lepley 79')
Subs Not Used: Eric Dick, Luis Olivera, Camden Riley, Mark Segbers
Louisville City FC: Chris Hubbard; Akil Watts, Taylor Peay (Luke Spencer 32'), Alexis Souahy, Oscar Jimenez; Napo Matsoso, Paolo DelPiccolo (C), Magnus Rasmussen; Niall McCabe, Antoine Hoppenot (Richard Ballard 83'), Brian Ownby (George Davis IV 82')
Subs Not Used: Tim Dobrowolski, Pat McMahon, Sunny Jane, Abdou Mbacke Thiam
SPR -- Ze Pedro 5 (unassisted) 7'
SPR -- Gianluca Busio 1 (Felipe Hernandez 5) 19'
SPR -- Ethan Vanacore-Decker 4 (Ze Pedro 3) 34'
LOU -- Napo Matsoso 5 (Antoine Hoppenot 1) 36'
LOU -- Alexis Souahy 1 (Niall McCabe 3) 40'
LOU -- Antoine Hoppenot 3 (Brian Ownby 4) 42'
LOU -- Brian Ownby 2 (Luke Spencer 3) 54'
LOU -- Magnus Rasmussen 12 (unassisted) 72'
LOU -- Magnus Rasmussen 13 (Alexis Souahy 2) 78'
LOU -- Richard Ballard 1 (Niall McCabe 4) 85'
LOU -- George Davis IV 3 (Luke Spencer 4) 88'
SPR -- Gianluca Busio (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 45+1'
SPR -- Ayyoub Allach (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 61'
SPR -- Felipe Hernandez (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 73'
LOU -- Antoine Hoppenot (yellow card; dissent) 81'
LOU -- Paolo DelPiccolo (yellow card; unsporting behavior) 84'
|Shots on Goal||7||9|
Referee: Eric Tattersall
Assistant Referee: Art Arustamyan
Assistant Referee: Matthew Rodman
Fourth Official: Chris Schurfranz