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Seven Thoughts from SPR’s 1-3 Loss to Indy Eleven

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Plus your obligatory Zelalem update for the Swope Park Rangers.

Thad Bell

The Swope Park Rangers had lost the game by the sixth minute against Indy Eleven on Monday night. Not a great way to end a homestand, failing to find victory yet in 2019. Here is your starting lineup which included four Sporting KC players on loan: Gedion Zelalem, Eric Dick, Wan Kuzain and Graham Smith.

Ugh! That First Goal

Camden Riley, the second round pick for Sporting Kansas City in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, got off to an atrocious start. In just the second minute Riley made a weak back pass and former Swope Park Ranger Dane Kelly easily got to the ball before Eric Dick, rounded the keeper and tapped it home.

Despite the awful mistake from Riley, he actually played good for most of the rest of the game. Around the 51st minute he came up the field, forced a turnover, dribbled through the defense and shot just wide of the net.

I’m forced to say most because he had a chance to make a clearance and scuffed it on what eventually became the third Indianapolis goal. Dane Kelly strikes again. However, it’s partially on Alexsander for standing right in front of Kelly and never closing him down before the shot.

Another Ugh... That Second Goal

The second goal at least made Indy Eleven work a little harder. The play was started by right back Mark Segbers who came flying out and missed a header. That forced Graham Smith to move over and cover the space the right back should have been in. The whole defense got pulled over and the cross came in and Kelly tapped it to Thomas Enevoldsen who tapped it home. Eric Dick was in position to stop it but it slipped through his legs. Overall Segbers, who’s getting so many minutes with Jaylin Lindsey injured, was mostly poor on the night.

Swope’s First and Only Goal

In the 26th minute things finally started to turn around for Swope. Throughout the first half they had possessed the ball just fine, but they weren’t getting up the field. Lots of side to side passes and constantly turning around instead of attacking the defense. But not on this goal. Alexsander was on the end of a quick pass and he took off straight at the defense running nearly the length of the field before sending a ball through to Wilson Harris who beautifully found the back of the net.

Crognale Should Have Seen Red

The game could have been changed in the 41st minute. Alex Crognale, the Columbus Crew SC loanee, was lucky to escape with a yellow card late in the first half. He had a studs up challenge on Harris who had forced a turnover in a bad spot. Harris was down for quite a while, not from the studs, but from landing violently on his shoulder. A few minutes later he left the game due to injury for 18-year-old Sean Karani, who is on an academy contract.

Karani had mostly appeared as a winger in past appearances. The other striker option for SPR had been Ethan Vanacore-Decker, but he wasn’t in the 18 tonight.

Your Obligatory Zelalem Update

First, Gedion Zelalem made another start, but this time it came at one of the two more forward midfield positions. It makes sense when Kuzain and Ayyoub Allach are both defensive midfielders on the roster. It’ll be interesting to see where he continues to line up.

As for his performance, it was more of the same. He has some creative ideas but his teammates weren’t ready for it. Otherwise, he would play too slow at times, constantly turning away from going forward to possess and look for the perfect pass, allowing Indy to get most of their team behind the ball.

The Theme of the Night: Pass Faster

In past seasons, Sporting KC could possess the ball, could take a lot of shots, but couldn’t finish. That’s basically what Swope’s problem was tonight. It didn’t help that SPR were down 2-0 within just a few minutes. It allowed Indy to sit behind the ball and concede possession and the Rangers just refused to make passes that cut through the defense towards the goal. Throughout the game Paulo Nagamura could be heard screaming to go faster or to switch the side of the field, but SPR just couldn’t do it quick enough. Kudos to Indianapolis for playing smart with their lead.

Other Random Thoughts

  • Where are the blue kits with orange socks? For that matter, where are the orange socks? Swope has literally worn all white for every game this year. Boring.
  • Man I miss Tyler Pasher. Sporting KC tried to playing him at fullback but he’s a winger and that pace showed on Monday. He’s not good enough to be on SKC, but he was fun on SPR.
  • It feels like a bad sign when your most creative player is your left back.
  • Jerome Ngom Mbekeli returned to earth again. He’s been way up in games one and three and mostly invisible in games two and four.
  • The Rangers fall to 0-3-1. I warned at the beginning of the season it could be a long one. Jaylin Lindsey hurting his knee and Gianluca Busio being so impressive with SKC is limiting who is available for Swope and hence limiting the talent on the field for Swope. At least Tyler Freeman should return after the Generation adidas Cup.