Swope Park Rangers secured their first win of the season over the defending USL champions, Louisville City FC in a dramatic late-winner.
Paulo Nagamura fielded one Sporting KC player, as Abdul Rwatubyaye got the start at center back.
Louisville was forced to play their fourth choice goalkeeper, Brian Holt, after their first two missed through injury and the third choice suffered an injury in warmups. The lack of experience definitely showed as Holt made two costly errors and appeared uncomfortable with the ball at his feet.
After the first 14 minutes, the referee was forced to delay proceedings for an hour due to lightning. Louisville came out the stronger following the delay, but SPR were able to turn things around with a goal in the 30th minute from Felipe Hernandez, capitalizing off of a bad mistake from the goalkeeper trying to play it out of the back.
Rassambek Akhmatov scored to double the lead four minutes later after good link-up play with Mark Segbers to give Swope Park Rangers a 2-0 advantage at halftime.
Louisville came out with a quick goal from Magnus Rasmussen, who bent a free kick past the keeper just minutes into the second half.
Louisville found a leveler from a scrappy goal credited to Luke Spencer in the 58th minute.
As Swope Park Rangers looked to counter in the 88th minute, Louisville’s Niall McCabe committed what he thought was a tactical foul and would have been fine with a yellow, but the referee disagreed as McCabe made no attempt for the ball and slid in high, endangering the attacker.
On the ensuing free kick about 45 yards out, Alexsander sent a ball in, which was met by Abdul Rwatubyaye, who looked it over the keeper who was lost in no man’s land to win it on his Swope Park Rangers debut.
The Rangers got their first win of the season, improving to 1-2-4 and sit seventeenth in the Eastern Conference with five points. Louisville dropped to 4-1-4 and sit eighth in the Eastern Conference with 13 points.
Paulo Nagamura has to be delighted with his team’s performance despite the lack of possession, which was just 37% for the home side. SPR pulled ahead, gave up the lead, but still remained focused and found a way to win against a pretty good Louisville City FC. SPR 18-year-old goalkeeper John Pulskamp also impressed with two huge saves.
Swope Park Rangers hit the road next with a meeting with Nashville SC on Saturday, May 11 at 7:00 PM CT. SPR return to Children’s Mercy Park when they play Atlanta United 2 on Sunday, May 19.