When the Swope Park Rangers expressed an interest in Tyler Blackwood, it did not take the English forward long to make his move.
“I’ve played against Swope Park the last two years and I’ve always been blown away by the facilities here, the style of play and how they play like the first team so I was always interested in coming here,” Blackwood told The Blue Testament. “The opportunity came up when I left Sacramento this season. I got a call and I jumped at it as soon as I heard they were interested.”
“I love the style of play,” Blackwood continued. “I’ve unfortunately been playing against these guys and having to deal with running around chasing the ball for 90 minutes, it will be nice to be on the side that is keeping the ball for that long. I feel like I am going to get a lot of opportunities in the attacking sense playing this style.”
Blackwood did get opportunities in Swope Park’s preseason match with Indiana Universityand seized them, scoring a brace in the second half to take the lead before a late goal leveled the score.
It was not hard for Blackwood to point out the worst part about playing against Swope Park. “The lack of possession and when you did get it the way they (SPR) would swarm on the player as soon as we won it back,” Blackwood stated. “You would try for ten minutes to get the ball back, you get it and then you would lose it in ten seconds. It’s a killer. It breaks teams down, I’ve seen the last two years how SPR broke teams down doing that. I’ve been learning that style since I’ve been here and it feels really good in a game, you save so much fitness when you are the one controlling the game.”
What he brings to the team
“I am an attacking winger, high in a front three on either side or I can play central as well but I think I will be used high outside the most where I can use my pace to run at defenders,” Blackwood described himself. “I get the ball I want to go forward, I want to score, create a goal. In our own half, of course, we want to keep it but my main thing is to score, I want to create goals.”
What he has learned about KC so far
There is an old joke in the Midwest (in a lot of places), “If you don’t like the weather, wait a day,(or an hour or even five minutes)”. At this point, it seems like Blackwood agrees with that joke.
“It was REALLY cold when I first arrived. The weather is all over the place,” Blackwood laughed. “It was snowing, the next day it was sunny then it was minus degrees and now it’s warm.”
Besides the weather, the 26-year-old winger seems to like the area as well, “Where I am at in Kansas City there is a lot going on so it is really good so far.”
QPR to SPR
Blackwood has an interesting distinction. He will become the first player to suit up for both Queens Park Rangers and Swope Park Rangers. Sporting Kansas City’s USL squad were not only named the Swope Park area where they train and played the first two years but as a nod to the fan named reserve side of the then Kansas City Wizards. The unofficial nickname of the reserve team stuck was obviously a play on Queens Park Rangers and was a logical and fun name for SKC’s second team.
Sporting KC has had connections to QPR in the past; Indian forward Sunil Chhetri was offered a contract but could not get a visa to play, Matt Besler received interest from them after the 2014 World Cup and midfielder Craig Rocastle played in their youth system.
Little known fact
Blackwood is a published author; he penned a book for children, Clive The Croc Who Lost His Chomp. Okay, not everyone knows that fact but it has been written about before. The really little-known fact is Blackwood has a connection to and has received some advice on playing from a great player.
“My godfather is Andy Cole that played for Manchester United,” Blackwood stated. “I grew up around him and still speak to him frequently. It’s crazy getting advice on goal scoring from someone like him. He’s been really prevalent with me growing up playing, giving me advice and as someone to look up to, he’s been incredible.”
With close to 200 goals in the Premier League, Cole has the experience to give advice. Perhaps we will see the legendary Manchester United player sporting a Swope Park Rangers jersey to support his godson.