The Swope Park Rangers stepped up their intensity in the second half to dig themselves out of a two goal first half deficit against the Real Monarchs. Nansel Selbol and Kharlton Belmar subbed in at halftime and led the Rangers back with each scoring against the top team in the Western Conference.
The Monarchs jumped out to an early lead when Daniel Haber took a free kick in the 8th minute from a few yards outside the box. Haber’s shot was perfectly placed just inside the upper corner and out of reach of Swope Park keeper Adrian Zendejas.
Felipe Hernandez almost returned the favor in the 21st but his dipping free kick went a little wide of goal.
The Monarchs made it a two goal lead in the 26th when Andrew Brody crossed in to the box where an open Kyle Curinga easily directed his header into the goal.
Swope Park did not give up any more chances but were also not very threatening in the first half either. That changed when Belmar and Selbol entered after the half.
“I think they (Selbol and Belmar) played very good, very good,” Swope Park head coach Nikola Popovic told The Blue Testament.”I don't like to speak about individual players, but they really affected the game. They brought the energy that we didn't have in the first half.”
With the tempo and intensity increased, the Rangers started to challenge the Monarch’s defense and the substitutions paid off. Selbol was the first to strike when he received the ball from Belmar, turned, found a lane to shoot and slid the ball past the Monarch keeper in the 60th.
The Rangers leveled it at 2-2 in the 82nd minute with a nice combination goal. Selbol slid the ball out to Tyler Pasher who overlapped the defense and sliced the ball across the box for Belmar knock it in the net.
‘It was one of those training ground goals, where you circle the ball around and Nansel picks up the ball in a good spot and Pasher is making a good overlapping run. Knowing Pasher, he's going to paint that ball across the box and I ran to the spot and he got it to me,” Belmar explained.
The substitutes changed the game but they credited the hard work of the first half for tiring out the opponent. “First half, the guys up top didn't have as much speed as we did,” Selbol explained. “But they can keep the ball and make them tired so when we come in we can make them run. When we came in, we could see that they couldn't defend as well because they were tired.”
“I think that's what we (Nansel and I) set out to do,” Belmar added.” We wanted to bring some energy to the game. We're both pretty great players and we just set out to give the guys a tough time on the wing and that's what we did. That's what the team needed.”
Despite some furious action, the Rangers were not able to find the go ahead goal and had to settle for taking a point from the league leaders.
Real Monarchs head coach Mark Briggs was understandably not pleased with the second half. “I thought it was a tale of two halves,” Briggs said via press release. “In the first half, I thought we were in complete control of the game. In the second half, I thought we were awful, speaking honestly.”
The Swope Park Rangers will travel to face Sacramento Republic FC on Wednesday, August 23 for their next match.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Real Monarchs
August 18, 2017 - Swope Soccer Village (Kansas City, Mo.)
Swope Park Rangers 2-2 Real Monarchs
SLC - Daniel Haber 5 (free kick) 8'
SLC - Kyle Curinga 2 (Andrew Brody 4) 26'
SPR - Nansel Selbol 5 (Kharlton Belmar 1) 60'
SPR - Kharlton Belmar 8 (Tyler Pasher 2) 82'
SPR - Lebo Moloto (caution; reckless foul) 67'
SLC - Kyle Curinga (caution; reckless foul) 88'
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Colton Storm, Oumar Ballo, Liam Doyle, Tyler Pasher; Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal, Christian Duke (C), Felipe Hernandez (Nansel Selbol 46); Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Cameron Iwasa 84), Lebo Moloto, Robert Mirosavic (Kharlton Belmar 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Darrin MacLeod, Parker Maher, Amer Didic, Dakota Barnathan
STATS: Shots 19, Shots on Goal 6, Corners 8, Fouls 16, Possession 52.6%
Real Monarchs: Matt Van Oekel; James Moberg, Max Lachoweski, Kyle Curinga, Taylor Peay; Nick Besler (C), Sebastian Velasquez, Andrew Brody, Daniel Haber (Skyler Milne 83), Charlie Adams (Jose Hernandez 63); Chandler Hoffman (Danny Cruz 72)
Substitutes Not Used: Emilio Orozco, Connor Sparrow, Karsten Hanlin, Justin Schmidt
STATS: Shots 5, Shots on Goal 3, Corners 4, Fouls 5, Possession 47.4%
Referee: Malik Badawi
Assistant Referees: John Krill and Austin Sanders
Fourth Official: Daniel Ortega
Weather: Cloudy and 82 degrees