Set to miss the USL Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club’s four-year history, the Swope Park Rangers (6-19-8, 26 points) will conclude their 2019 USL Championship campaign on Wednesday night with a trip to Eastern Conference contenders Indy Eleven (18-9-6, 60 points) at the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Led by second-year head coach and former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura, the Rangers are looking to bounce back from a humbling 8-3 loss at Louisville City FC on Saturday and end the season on a high note.
Portuguese playmaker Ze Pedro, on-loan Sporting KC midfielder and U.S. youth international Gianluca Busio and forward Ethan Vanacore-Decker all found the back of the net in the first half to give SPR a 3-0 lead, but Louisville responded emphatically with eight unanswered goals to claim victory.
Indy Eleven have punched their playoff ticket under head coach Martin Rennie and can solidify third place in the East with a win or a draw on Wednesday. Indy snapped a four-game losing skid by thrashing Memphis 901 FC by a 3-0 scoreline on Oct. 5 before battling Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 1-1 road draw on Saturday evening. Indy’s top two scorers, Tyler Pasher (11 goals) and Dane Kelly (eight goals), both plied their trade for SPR in 2016, with Pasher also spending 2017 in Kansas City.
SPR midfielder Felipe Hernandez, 21, has parlayed a stellar USL Championship season into an MLS Homegrown deal with Sporting Kansas City, recording eight goals and five assists en route to team MVP honors. Further up the field, fellow Sporting KC Academy product and 19-year-old Wilson Harris has bagged a team-leading 11 goals as one of the top-scoring teenagers in the league.
The first meeting between the sides took place six months ago, with Indy Eleven posting a 3-1 road win on April 15 at Children's Mercy Park. Kelly and Thomas Enevoldsen scored within the first six minutes to put Indy in cruise control before Harris pulled a goal back for SPR midway through the first half. Kelly notched his brace on 53 minutes to quash any hopes of a Rangers comeback.
USL Championship: Game 34 of 34
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019
Kickoff: 6 p.m. CT
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Swope Park Rangers: 6-19-8 (26 points, 18th place in Eastern Conference)
MLS Affiliate: Sporting Kansas City
Indy Eleven: 18-9-6 (60 points, 3rd 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: #INDvSPR
Swope Park Rangers