The Swope Park Rangers will face Oklahoma City this evening and for two team that have never faced each other, there will be little bit of rivalry with a lot of familiar foes. Several of the Rangers; Christian Duke, Jacob VanCompernolle and Jon Kempin all played for the Energy recently.
"We know there is a certain rivalry that doesn't exist but because they are in Oklahoma and we are in Kansas City it does," Swope Rangers coach Marc Dos Santos confessed. "Duke played there, Jacob played there, Jimmy Nielsen was here so we know there is something to build around but for us it is another game. The same we respected Tulsa, we respected San Antonio and every other team we have played until now. For us it is the same type of mentality, the same type of preparation."
Duke, the Rangers captain spent the most time with the Energy. On loan from Sporting KC in 2014 and he signed with them for the 2015 season. Duke played more than 30 matches in Oklahoma City under former Sporting KC keeper turned manager Jimmy Nielsen.
Kansas City homegrown keeper Jon Kempin was on loan to the Energy in 2014 and may have been back there some last year if he was not needed back in Kansas City to backup Tim Melia.
VanCompernolle partnered with Duke on the backline for the Energy and played more than 20 matches for the Energy. "It's going to be exciting, been talking to some of the guys on the team and they are definitely up for it and I know we will be up for it as well," Jacob explained after practice earlier in the week. "I know there will be a lot of banter but it will be good, when both teams step out on the field we are there to compete and get three points."
Duke echoed VanCompernolle's thoughts. "It's going to be exciting to go back see some old faces and it will be all fun and games before the game but once it starts it's time to step in between the white lines and get a W."
Duke has also chatted with some former team mates, "Some of the guys have reached out to me and I hear they have a couple chants for Jacob and I, it will be a fun atmosphere and I am excited to play in it."
For both Duke and VanCompernolle it will be the first time facing an old team in the professional ranks. "For me it was my first professional club," VanCompernolle explained. " They did a lot of good things for me there but I hope we go down there, give the fans a good game and hopefully come back with three points."
"I enjoyed my time down there but this is a new chapter in my life and I am ready to step up and succeed," Duke added.
The Energy also have former Sporting KC players Cyprian Hedrick and Michael Thomas as well as former Academy player Jordan Rideout. Coady Andrews is another familiar face for Kansas City since he went to UMKC and played several years with the Missouri Comets.
Some time off was put to good use
The Rangers had a week off from USL play but scrimmaged with the University of Tulsa last weekend. They rested several starters but gave a number of Rangers and Academy players some time. Tulsa came out on top 1-0 but the Rangers were still pleased.
"The weekend was good," Dos Santos said after practice. "To play Tulsa with the players we did. I think we were able to look at a lot of players that haven't had minutes. Eight players from the U18 team participated in the game so it was an excellent weekend to rest a lot of the guys and at the same time to see what we have in the Academy against a team that is quite older than us so it was good."
"Now we are preparing for a normal week, Dos Santos continued. "For a game against Oklahoma, a tough game away, it's our third game on the road in our first four so if we get out of there with a good result I think we will be in a very good position."
Special preparations for OKC?
With the time off, the Rangers work on a number of things to continue to improve as a team but they did also squeeze in some practice in anticipation of playing the Energy. "In part of the training session we did a lot of set play situations and throw-ins in the box. They are a team that is very aggressive in those moments, Dos Santos explsined. "They never give up, they are a team that stays in every game, especially when they are playing at home, a very competitive team. So we tried to recreate that a little bit in the session today in some moments but at the end of the day."
We know there is a certain rivalry that doesn't exist but because they are in Oklahoma and we are in Kansas City it does. Duke played there, Jacob played there, Jimmy Nielsen was here so we know there is something to build around but for us it is another game. The same we respected Tulsa, we respected San Antonio and every other team we have played until now. For us it is the same type of mentality, the same type of preparation.
SPR getting healthier
All but Dane Kelly should be available for the 18 in the match and he should be getting close and may be ready for the second home opener at Swope Park.