Swope Park Rangers finally got back to their winning ways this past weekend with a win over Seattle Sounders 2. Now after a three games on the road SPR will return home to take on Saint Louis FC. Swope Park Rangers could really use another win to continue to climb the table and stay in the running for a playoff spot. Last season the cut off for the playoffs was 42 points, and SPR are currently sitting on 17 with 16 games remaining.
St. Louis FC
In just their second season, Saint Louis FC has proven to be a real attacking threat. So far this season they are averaging 1.6 goals per game, which comes largely in part to their El Salvadorian striker Irvin Herrera. Herrera currently sits in third place amongst the top scorers in the league with 9 goals.
The Second key to much of St. Louis FC's success has been the defensive midfield combination of James Musa and Chad Bond. Both are great ball winners, and do a great job of speeding up or slowing down the tempo of play.
Swope Park Rangers
Last week SPR came away with a win without arguably their best player in Kevin Oliveira. On Thursday we found out that the Rangers will have to continue playing without Oliveira after he suffered a season ending injury. I think the likely replacements for him is either Alex Molano or new signing Ayrton. Ayrton did get a start against Whitecaps 2 a few weeks ago but since has featured more on the wing. Molano got the start in the attacking center mid role this past weekend, and did a serviceable job.
Another missing piece that should hopefully be back is Tyler Pasher. As of Friday Pasher was waiting to receive word from a concussion test to see if he could play or not. Pasher missed the game against the Sounders, but it gave Kris Tyrpak a chance was something that I think was something was needed and (clearly by the goal he scored) beneficial.
Two players that got starts this past weekend that had not been consistently in the line up until then were Omar Ballo and John Kempin. Kempin finally took back his starting position after coach Mark Dos Santos gave back up, Zac Lubin, his fair shot at the job. More interesting though was the fact that Omar Ballo started again to make it back to back games. I think this was simply to give the youngster an opportunity, but I do believe we'll see the first choice center back pairing of Amer Didic and Tommy Meyer to hopefully slow down the St. Louis attack.
I see Swope Park Rangers losing this game 1-2 because I just simply don't think they can keep track of a striker of Herrera's quality, and I think they will really struggle without Oliveira in the midfield.