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Party at the Zoo

Swope Park Rangers win Western Conference Championship and advance to USL Cup Finals

The Rangers kept on rolling last night in defeating Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 by a final of 3-0, becoming Western Conference Champions and advancing onto the USL Cup Finals.

Kris Tyrpak, who has been fantastic all season, found another level last night and led the Rangers to the win with a brace. Tyler Pasher started the game at left back after some brilliant tinkering from Marc Dos Santos, and the pacey young Canadian rewarded his coach with two assists. Both Tyrpak and Pasher have been great all season long and really make you wonder if they wouldn’t be of more help to Sporting KC, who has been lackluster on the wings.

It wasn’t the prettiest of all goals, but The Rangers were on top just eight minutes into the match. Ayrton found Christian Duke making a run in the box and Duke fired a dangerous ball on the ground right in front of goal. Mark Anthony Gonzalez was in perfect position and poked the ball on frame, but Vancouver keeper Spencer Richey did well to make the first save. The ball bounced right to Tyrpak who took one touch before blasting the ball into the back of the net to give SPR the early 1-0 advantage.

The Whitecaps actually appeared to have the upper hand when the match opened and they didn’t slow down after conceding the goal. They were able to find some possession on their attacking end, but that final touch was missing. Swope Park keeper Adrian Zendejas was a busy man and Amer Didic even had to take a powerful shot square in the face.

In the 32’ minute The Rangers would double their lead. Pasher was taking on a lone defender in the corner. He was able to create enough space and played in a beautiful cross that froze the entire Vancouver defense. Richey made a very weak effort to gather it in and found himself in no man’s land. Tyrpak had also fooled his mark, easily running onto the ball at the back post and sending it into the open net.

The game settled down a bit after SPR took the 2-0 lead. The second half was without many fireworks until the last few minutes. Pasher played another great ball for Dane Kelly over the top of the defense in the 89’ minute. Kelly, like the lethal veteran he is, showed just why he is become the all time leading scorer in the USL. He calmly cut the ball inside and curled the ball passed the keeper into the top corner of the net, extending the lead to 3-0.

Before the celebrating could begin however, Nansel Selbol was sent off with his second yellow card. Both tackles he was punished for were ridiculous, nonsensical challenges. But the second one is especially puzzling when his team had the game locked up with literally seconds left. But now, he will have to watch the final from the sideline.

But the whistle finally sounded and The Zoo was sent into a frenzy. Marc Dos Santos his Rangers climbed the ranks all season long after taking time to get their feet wet in their inaugural season. This is a phenomenal accomplishment and hoisting that trophy for the Western Conference Championship really is a great moment for this club.

SPR will find out their opponent for the USL Cup Final on Sunday when New York Red Bulls II takes Louisville City FC at 6:30pm.