It was a chilly, but beautiful night at Children's Mercy Park for the Swope Park Rangers Inaugural match tonight. Marc Dos Santos' squad dominated play against Portland Timbers 2 and came away with the 2-1 victory. After a slow, scoreless first half, the match picked up and goals from Oliveira and Salloi gave the Rangers all 3 points.
SPR came out of the gate looking strong and playing really positive soccer. Jimmy Medranda and Kevin Oliveira were working very well together and were able to put Tyrpak and Kelly in for several chances on goal within the first 20 minutes of play.
While things would eventually level off a bit, SPR were definitely in control of the match throughout the first half. They had 9 shots and forced the Portland keeper Hamilton into 4 saves. Jon Kempin was not needed for a single save and Timbers 2 were only able to get off one shot.
The pressure would continued into the 2nd half. Just seconds after a near goal from Oliveira, the ball found Medranda at midfield in a vulnerable spot for the Portland defense. Medranda charged down the field, waited for the perfect moment, and split the defense with a great pass to Dan Kelly at the top of the box. Kelly took a touch into the area and was blatantly dragged down for the penalty. Kevin Oliveira stepped up to take the kick in the 48' minute and put it away emphatically. The Rangers had the lead and the team's first ever goal.
But just a few minutes later, a huge chance for Portland Timbers 2 would come. Kempin made a fantastic reaction save from point blank range and then was also able to save the rebound as well. Once the ball was cleared the young keeper screamed and pumped his fists knowing how big of a moment that was.
Swope Park then began really coming into their own. They were flying numbers forward and the ball was seemingly in the attacking half the rest of the match. Jimmy Medranda was playing with swag as he was nutmegging defenders and doing back heel passes. Dane Kelly continued to get into dangerous spots. Oliveira was also causing problems for Portland every time he received the ball.
In the 70' minute Jimmy Medranda picked up a knock and that gave SKC Academy player, Nansel Selbol, a chance to come on the field for his debut. He also made a pest of himself with his time and showed he will be more than capable in coming off the bench this season.
Daniel Salloi, loaned from SKC, also made his debut and it didn't take long for him to have an impact. In stoppage time he took the ball at midfield and played a fantastic ball to Mark Anthony Gonzalez behind the defense. Salloi then made the run to the center of the box, got into position, and received a perfect ball back to him for the classy one touch finish.
But Portland Timbers 2 came right back just a few moments later and were able to get a goal back. It was Nick Besler, the brother of the SKC captain, who sent it passed Kempin right close range.
Despite conceding late, it was a great first match for the Swope Park Rangers. They moved the ball around nicely, defense looked solid and they got the goals to go with 15 shots. Marc Dos Santos will be happy as all of his pieces finally came together for the perfect start to the season.