The Swope Park Rangers first preseason match was a success on several levels. First, they easily defeated UMKC 5-0. Second, they were able to run two full squads out for 45 minutes each to build fitness and evaluate veterans, new players and Academy players as well. The third mission of the game was to continue building chemistry and familiarity between players.
The first half saw newcomers Liam Doyle and Kharlton Belmar put the ball in the net to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead at half time. Second year Ranger Nansel Selbol scored twice and Academy forward Leroy Enzugusi added one as well.
While the Rangers controlled the match from the start and had several opportunities early, it was not until the 23rd minute when Robert Mirosavic lofted a cross to the far side where Doyle pegged it into the net to take the lead.
Belmar was dangerous throughout the half but found the back in the net in the 40th minute when he received a pass from Christian Duke, dashed past the defense and slid the ball into the corner to make it 2-0.
With a whole new squad checking in after half, the Rangers had a number of current Academy players on the field but they came out just as intense as the first group.
A number of opportunities were created but the first goal of the second half occurred when the referee indicated a penalty kick. Chase Bromstedt was brought down in the box and Nansel Selbol quickly stepped up to take it the shot. Selbol’s shot into the corner easily beat the keeper to make it 3-0 in the 75th.
Leroy Enzugusi slid away from his defender to and slipped the ball under the UMKC keeper to make it 4-0 a few minutes later. Selbol completed the brace when Louis Bennett played a through ball to him to make the lead 5-0 for the Rangers.
“The game was good today,” Selbol stated after the match. “We kept the ball and waited for the right moment to go forward and when they came we used those chances to score. Nikola want me to come off the bench in the second half, when teams are tired and I can keep the pressure going all the time.”
Swope Park Rangers’ head coach Nikola Popovic was pleased with the overall result but mostly how far his team has come already. “This is a process of developing and learning and I think after two weeks of practicing, they already give a good response. Of course we still have a lot to do in front of us. Learning is like this, it will come in time but for the first test they did very, very well.”
It can sometimes be easy to overlook a college team but the Rangers came out strong with both groups. “The culture of this club is to go as hard as we can,” Popovic explained. “ We have a very good winning mentality and we put the team first, the work ethic and intelligence always present. So when you play against these teams, you do not forget that. It is our idea to keep going, that is why the intensity level from minute one to minute ninety is very high, very strong and very responsible. All of them focused for the entire ninety minutes.”
Swope Park Rangers vs. University of Missouri – Kansas City
February 19, 2017 – Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Swope Park Rangers 5, UMKC 0
SPR – Liam Doyle (Robert Mirosavic) 23’
SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Christian Duke) 40’
SPR – Nansel Selbol (Penalty Kick) 75’
SPR – Leroy Enzugusi (Unassisted) 84’
SPR – Nansel Selbol (Louis Bennett) 90’
First Half: David Greczek; Will Little, Oumar Ballo, Liam Doyle, Parker Maher; Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Christian Duke (C), Felipe Hernandez; Robert Mirosavic, Mark Anthony Gonzalez, Kharlton Belmar
Second Half: Darrin MacLeod; Joe Amico, Patrick Wilkinson, Dakota Barnathan, Ezra Armstorng (Christian Albelo 70’); Louis Bennett II, Ray Saari, Chase Bromstedt; Roman Knox (Camilo Benitez 70’), Leroy Enzugusi, Nansel Selbol (C)