This year, we saw several Rangers players earn contracts, championships and various other accolades with both teams: Sporting Kansas City and Swope Park Rangers. One player in particular has had an incredible first two years with the club is 21-year-old midfielder, Kevin Oliveira.
Before signing with the senior team - coming off a storied youth career in Europe - Oliveira joined the Rangers ahead of their inaugural season were he recorded 13 appearances with 12 starts, a total of six goals and nine assists, including having led the league with three goals and four assists in the regular season before having his season cut short due to an ACL injury in late June 2016.
Other notable USL career moments include:
- Oliveira scored the first goal in club history from the penalty spot in the season opener against Portland Timbers 2
- Made his first assist on April 2nd against Tulsa Roughnecks FC
- Earned a the No. 2 on United Soccer League’s 20-Under-20 list, which highlights the league’s best young talent in 2016.
On the MLS side, the Sao Vicente native made three substitute appearances in both MLS regular play and playoffs. Oliveira made his MLS debut as a 79th-minute substitute in a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution on Sept. 16. He also played eight minutes as a second-half substitute in a 2-1 Open Cup Final victory over the New York Red Bulls. His third appearance came when he took the field for Benny Feilhaber during the Western Conference Knockout Round in Houston as an extra-time substitute.
Despite, having made only a few appearances for the senior team this season, Oliveira was on the field for Sporting KC as they won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, including assisting the Rangers in becoming back-to-back Western Conference Final champions.
"I feel very happy. It's been a good year for me and for Sporting and Swope Park Rangers. We [worked] all year for this. I had opportunity to sign with [the] first team and win [US Open Cup]. I hope we can do more on the playoffs but its soccer but now its just focus on the USL Cup. [..] We are ready to go."
The Rangers made history when they became the first USL expansion team to reach a league final back-to-back. But Oliveira says that nothing has changed in their mentality from last season:
"It's [about] the mindset. We are here to win everything. We are here to work and to try to go more far possible. So I think we have shown this in those two years. More this year we play all the teams of how we play. We show everybody we just have the final. I think we have to be there and we'll be doing everything to win the USL cup."
Although, the Rangers suffered a harsh 5-1 loss in last year's final against the New York Red Bulls 2, they're more prepared going into Monday night's Final against Louisville City FC:
"Every year is different. Last year was our first year and we made the final. The mindset is always the same to win the cup. We are more prepared than last year. We worked for this all year, so I think we are going to do good [for] the final."
With his experiences the last two years, Kevin should feel confident going into this USL Final having the chance to put a cherry on top of what has been a very memorable year.