The Swope Park Rangers were able to even the season series with St. Louis FC with a tough 1-0 win last night. After taking the lead in the opening moments of the game they were able to hold off the visitors throughout the rest of the rain soaked match. Jon Kempin recorded his second straight shutout and fellow SKC loan Amadou Dia had a great match as well.
Just before the 1' minute mark, Mark Anthony Gonzalez muscled his way into the box and was able to get off a shot. The St. Louis keeper, Ryan Thompson, did well to get down low and get his paw on it. But Tyler Pasher was there to clean up the mess and blasted it into the back of the net.
SPR was able to get the early lead, but STLFC didn't miss a beat. Just moments later Irvin Herrera and his team leading nine goals got into space behind the defense. He charged towards goal with just Kempin to beat, but the Tiny Puma got his paw on the shot that was destined for the upper corner.
In the 37' minute the rain became too much and the referee signaled for the teams to go back to the locker rooms. It did not look like the weather would allow the match to continue, but after one hour and 38 minutes, play would resume. The teams returned for a few minutes before the halftime whistle. The coaches and referees conferred and decided to go with a shortened break after everyone had sat around for so long already.
The match had resumed, but so had the rain. The weather impacted the game and it was not necessarily pretty soccer the rest of the way. But the Rangers did well to hold off the visitors as they threw men forward to get the equalizer.
Sporting KC fans will be happy to hear that Amadou Dia was involved and part of the back line that has put up two shut outs in a row. He created the best chance of the match for SPR with a run down the left wing. He used his pace to beat his man and sent in a perfect ground cross. Gonzalez was in a perfect position to fire it home, but Tyrpak didn't see him and got to the ball first. He turned to shoot across his body and sent it way over the bar.
St. Louis stepped up the intensity the last 15 minutes or so, and came very close several times to drawing level. Herrera had a big opportunity go over Kempin's head and well over the bar as well. But just before the final whistle, the ball dropped to him just outside of the six yard box right in front of goal. He turned and fired a powerful shot, but too close to Kempin who reacted well.
After seemingly losing his starting job briefly, Jon Kempin has now put in two straight shut outs. Not only is Lubin challenging him, but SPR just picked up another young keeper out of Liga MX. His performance against STLFC is exactly what this club wants to see out of him. He played with confidence all night. Whether it was coming off his line and leaping up to gather in a cross, or staying big on his line. He got a body part on everything near him and even did well distributing the ball forward.
With two straight wins Marc Dos Santos and his squad are right back in the hunt. The record stands at 6-7-2 with 20 points. They are middle of the table in the West, but are within a few points of several teams in front of them.
Next Saturday the Rangers head west to take on Arizona United SC at Peoria Sports Complex at 9:30pm.