The Swope Park Rangers are on the road tonight to face the Portland Timbers 2. This match will not be in Portland, it will instead be played at Rocky Mountain High School in Meridian, Idaho at 8 p.m. CT. The Timbers wanted to play this match in the Boise area since Idaho is part of their Homegrown territory. This will be the second time Swope Park Rangers (3-4-2) play Timbers 2 (4-6-1 ). The Rangers beat them 2-1 in their inaugural match back in March.
The Rangers are coming off of a solid performance on the road at Sacramento Republic FC where the Rangers took the lead and held on for a draw. Head coach Marc Dos Santos looks to continue the progress, "It's just one game," Rangers head coach Marc Dos Santos noted. "But we feel that in the buildup process of an expansion, a new team, a young team, it's going to be a process. What we were happy, the game in RGV (Rio Grand Valley two games ago) was very tough for us mentally. The trip, just the factor of the heat, the place where we played, it was tough mentally. So to go to a place like Sacramento and change our mentality and be strong and react from the last game, I felt it's a game that we could have won. They tied it minutes after we scored but I think that it was a game we could have won but it was the right mentality for an away game."
"Now we have to keep it up," Dos Santos continued. "You have to try to find the steady line where our commitment is always the same in every game. I think with having guys playing regularly in a certain position that they're starting to create certain habits, I just think this team in going to be better."
One change Dos Santos had made for the Sacramento match was to move captain Christian Duke from the back line into the midfield. "Duke had a very good game. We felt that we needed a little bit of muscle, we needed to be more dynamic in that spot, we needed to be a little bit more energetic because I really didn't like the energy in Rio Grande," Dos Santos stated.
With moving Duke the middle, Dos Santos tweaked the base formation as well. "We inverted the triangle also, we didn't want to be obsessed by system and not moderate that system or not adapt to something when it's not working so we just inverted the triangle from the 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 where we put more with energy in the middle and I think it worked. We are going to keep on always adjusting because were coaches and that's what you have to do."
Duke played in midfield for Sporting Kansas City and during much of his youth career but played outside back most of his time with Oklahoma City. Duke was happy to be back in the mid, "It's almost like Christmas again," he laughed. "It was exciting, it's where I grew up playing my entire life and to be back there and playing with these guys was a lot of fun."
They beat them once already...
Dos Santos was careful when asked if that meant the Rangers should win again. "Every game is different, right? We played Portland at home in our home opener with Dane Kelly, with Jimmy Medranda, a different scenario at Children's Mercy Park. Now we are going without Dane, without Medranda, we are going to Boise, play on a high school field with football lines. So you go from a champions league environment to a college environment with different players."
"They also had a couple of additions," Dos Santos added. "We had a couple of additions, we're really focusing on what we have to do well and how they've improved as a team. They have a good kid like Kharlton Belmar. He came in in the game against us at Mercy Park and played left wing and since then he started to play as a number 9, being very good for them. So he goes from game one to be on the bench and coming in as a winger to now being the starting forward. Things change and you just have to adapt. But you know for you to say I won the first game so naturally I'll win the second, no, every game is different and we just want to focus on going out there and do the best possible."
Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler's brother Nick was drafted by Portland Timbers last year and he has been getting playing time with Timbers 2. He has appeared in 10 of their 11 matches this season. Former SKC mid/defender Amobi Okugo signed with Portland and has made one appearance for Timbers 2.
The game will be broadcast on SportingKC.com and YouTube.com/USLPRO