Swope Park Rangers 2016 USL season preview
Year founded: 2016
Affiliation: Sporting Kansas City
2015 record, standing in conference: N/A first year
2015 playoffs: N/A first year
Key additions: Everyone. Coach Dos Santos, Dane Kelly (all-time USL leading scorer), Kris Tyrpak (has scored in PDL, USL, NASL and MLS), Tommy Meyer (2 MLS Cups, 57 games for Galaxy), Ualefi, Nansel Selbol (SKC Academy), Kevin Oliviera (talented mid from Benfica's Academy)
Key departures: N/A
Projected/ideal starting XI: Jon Kempin; Jimmy Mulligan, Tommy Meyer, Amer Didic, Christian Duke; Ualefi, Kevin Oliveira, Jimmy Medranda; Kris Tyrpak, Dane Kelly, Tyler Pasher
Choosing an ideal starting XI is not easy. It is expected that Kempin and Medranda will be available for much of the season to get them games but there are others who could come down or move up on loan like Sporting KC homegrown player Daniel Salloi. Coach Dos Santos will also do his best to get Academy players into games as well.
Overview of team heading into season: When Sporting KC decided to dive headfirst into a full second team and not just an affiliate/loan relationship, they started off right. First they brought in Marc Dos Santos as coach. He was the NASL coach of the year in 2015 and has successful experience throughout his career. Next they went out and signed the USL all-time leading scorer in Dane Kelly and quick winger Kris Tyrpak to provide instant offense. With MLS veteran Tommy Meyer and home grown Christian Duke anchoring the back line the Rangers had the core to build around.
The Rangers were then stocked with young players that have potential to grow into MLS players and SKC Academy players there to get the experience need to become MLS players.
Why you should watch [team] in 2016: Coach Dos Santos has quickly brought this team together in preseason and they will play a similar style to Sporting Kansas City. The team is comprised of several players that could be on MLS rosters and could easily be called up in case of injuries on the first team. The rest of the roster is more exciting in that it is a talented group of young players hungry to make their way to the first team. There are already three players on academy contracts (SKC Academy players) added to the roster and they look ready to make that move.
3 Players to watch: Okay I cheated and listed four, I could easily list a few more...
Kris Tyrpak: Speedy and gives it his all, he should provide a serious threat down the wings.
Kevin Oliveira: Any player from Benfica's Academy should be watched, has been described as a special player and even Robb Heineman tweeted about his arrival.
Nansel Selbol: He is a 5'4" highlight reel. Center forward, wing, attacking mid, as long as it is attacking the young SKC Academy grad will be involved.
Tyler Pasher: Maybe the biggest kept secret of the Rangers. Often looked like he was the best player on the field in preseason matches.
The 2016 season will be a success if...:
This is a little complicated. The Rangers would be successful if they produce one or two players that move up to Sporting KC. They would be successful if they provided some depth during injury scares and Open Cup games. They would be successful if they made it the playoffs and made a run in their first season.
But this being Sporting Kansas City's USL team, the expectation is all of the above. Produce future players while providing depth while instilling a winning attitude and tradition in those players.
Check out all of the USL previews