The rivalry remained even with the Swope Park Rangers traveling across the state to earn a 1-1 draw with St. Louis FC on Wednesday night. Not only do the teams have a 1-1-1 record against each other, but the stats were nearly identical as well - all the way down to the same number of cautions.
The Rangers seemed to have the upper hand for most of the first half. In the 14' minute Emmanuel Appiah, on loan from SKC, nearly finished off an absolutely beautiful sequence that started in the defensive half. His first touch let him down but he was able to get off a shot that would bounce off the post.
Sporting KC loanee Diego Rubio would finally get the breakthrough for the visitors in the 34' minute. The St. Louis back line was high up the field and Appiah sent a long ball over the top for Rubio. Keeper Mark Pais came out of the box and was able to get the first touch on it, but the clearance hit the onrushing striker falling right in his path. Rubio ran onto the ball for an easy, open-net finish. There were questions of offside on the play, but it was difficult to tell from the replays.
SPR continued to create the best chances and even hit the post a couple more times. But in the 61st minute, STL's Chad Bond was able to turn in the box and hit the crossbar with a dangerous shot. After coming close, STLFC had some more pep in their step.
Just a few minutes later, the referee would call a very questionable PK on Tommy Meyer. In the 65' minute Meyer went to challenge Jordan Roberts on a cross into the box. There was contact, but it looked like a fair challenge and that Roberts never had a chance on the ball anyway. Irvin Herrera stepped up to take the penalty kick and fired it passed Kempin to level the match at 1-1.
Marc Dos Santos was working with a plethora of attacking power on the night and was able to bring on two more dangerous strikers in Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Dane Kelly. He also brought on one of his many supersubs, Alex Molano, who immediately got involved. Kelly set him up for a volley that forced a big save from Pais, and then Kelly himself would come close a couple times in the dying moments.
They were virtually level in shots, shots on goal, corners, and fouls; but the Park Rangers definitely looked the better team and created the best chances. The rivals will meet once more this season to break the deadlock on August 21st when they will play at Children's Mercy Park.
SPR has now lost just once in the last eight matches and moved into 6th place in the Western Conference with an 8-8-5 record. After a rough spell they are several points clear of the playoff line and are looking to continue climbing the ranks.
It will be good for Rubio to see the ball go in the net and get rewarded for hustle. If we can use Alec Kann as an example, Sporting KC loaned him to SPR ahead of the US Open Cup. PV wanted to get him a full game before starting that competition. Not that this is a big surprise, but I think this sudden loan of Rubio ahead of the CONCACAF Champion's League next week is a sign that we will see Rubio get to start for SKC that midweek match.
Next up the Rangers head to Oklahoma to try and sweep Tulsa Roughnecks FC for the third win on the season on Saturday night. Kickoff is at 7:30 from ONEOK Field.