After a week of confusion as to who would host the conference semi-final, Swope Park Rangers eked out a 1-0 win at home against Sacramento Republic FC. This game wasn’t the prettiest that SPR has played this season but they certainly got the job done, and that’s what matters.
The first half brought the Rangers only two good chances. The first coming in 9th minute when Kharlton Belmar broke through the Sacramento backline, but Republic FC keeper Evan Newton did an excellent job of making himself big to deny Belmar 1-on-1. The Second came from a Felipe Hernandez corner in the 19th minute that was directed on goal by Amer Didic but hit the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.
The Swope Park backline had a bit of a change on the backline with Parker Maher getting the start at left back and Tyler Pasher getting pushed up the wing, and with James Musa being back in the side Dakota Barnathan was forced into a center back role with Amer Didic. The backline did have some shaky moments but with James Musa playing the #6 role beautifully for the Rangers and with Zendejas cleaning up anything in behind the Rangers held Sacramento scoreless in the game.
Just 53 seconds into the second half the Rangers finally broke the deadlock. James Musa played a brilliant ball from midfield to spring Pasher in on goal. Pasher did an excellent job of forcing Newton to make a save while under pressure but Newton does not push it far enough wide and Kharlton Belmar calmly heads it into the empty net for his 15th goal of the season.
SPR would see the game out and punch their ticket for the Western Conference Final. The Rangers won’t have to wait long to find out who they will face either. San Antonio FC and Oklahoma City Energy FC face off tonight for the other spot in the conference final.
Stay tuned for announcements of opponent, game location, and time.