Phoenix Rising FC made their first trip to Kansas City to take on the Swope Park Rangers in a Father’s Day match-up. We’ll start with the lineups, which are worth noting.
SPR went with a false nine as Lebo Moloto returned to the CF role. Amer Didic rejoins the club on loan after signing a first team contract with Sporting Kansas City. Also on loan is Tyler Pasher, who is returning from Canadian National Team duty. Adrian Zendejas is also on loan from SKC along with Cameron Iwasa, who started on the bench. Kevin Oliveira also returned from international duty to start.
A couple big notes from Phoenix Rising. Didier Drogba made his USL road debut after scoring and assisting last week in his overal USL debut. Former Sporting KC defender Amadou Dia also started for Phoenix in his familiar left back role.
Liam Doyle, who I would have preferred to see go to the bench instead of Oumar Ballo, picked up an early yellow card in the ninth minute when she slipped and clipped Shawn Wright-Phillips from behind. The ensuing Drogba free kick was easily saved by Zendejas.
As is often the case with the Swope Park Rangers (and Sporting KC for that matter) the club dominated possession early. Outside of that free kick from Phoenix they didn’t really have much of the ball and definitely didn’t have it near the SPR goal.
The Rangers kept pressing until J.J. Greer would be called for a penalty for a challenge from behind on Lebo Moloto. The replay doesn’t give the best angle but he goes to ground in the box and he is behind the man.
Kevin Oliveira would be the man to take the penalty kick and he would put it home to get the Rangers the 1-0 lead.
Oliveira, up to that point, hadn’t even played 90 minutes against Phoenix this season up to that point and it was his third goal of the year against the team from Tempe, Arizona. That was the fifth penalty given up by PRFC in just 11 games. The game would go into halftime still at 1-0. Swope Park had 71 percent of the possession up to that point.
The first big moment in the 2nd half came in the 54th minute when a questionable foul was called against Tyler Pasher outside the box leading to a free kick. Drogba would go for a pass on the ground to Wright-Phillips who would blast a shot directly at Zendejas.
Zendejas would lose all that good will just a couple minutes later when he had an awful giveaway to SWP who would find a wide open Didier Drogba and you know what happened next. A perfectly placed shot hits the post then goes sideways into the net to level the game at one.
The lead would be short lived as in the 61st minute Christian Duke was taken down in the box by AJ Gray for another penalty.
Nansel Selbol would take this one and put it home to put Swope Park back into the lead 2-1.
From there it felt like Phoenix didn’t have an answer for Swope Park. Play was sloppy and Phoenix couldn’t really create any genuine opportunities. Something worth noting was a dive by Omar Bravo in the 75th minute. It went unpunished but it would set the stage for the end of the game.
In the 89th minute Bravo would ultimately make the play that decided the game. From an offside position Amer Didic may have lightly bumped Bravo who flopped in the box. The flop wouldn’t have matter if the AR would have flagged him as offside but ultimate a PK would be called.
Drogba would step up and put home his second of the game.
That would be how the game would end today in Kansas City. Swope Park maintains their slight lead over Phoenix in the standings but this is a draw that has to feel like a loss.