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Swope Park Rangers return home for match against Loudoun United

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This will be the first ever meeting between the Rangers and DC United's newest affiliate, Loudoun United.

Thad Bell

Swope Park Rangers vs Loudoun United FC

(#SPRvLDN)

When: Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 7:00 PM CT

Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas

How to Watch: ESPN+ ($5.99/month)

The 1-4-6 Swope Park Rangers have three home matches in the month of June, with the first game coming against DC United’s USL Championship affiliate, Loudoun United FC, who are 2-3-2 on the road this season. This will be the first meeting between these two sides in Loudoun United’s inaugural season, taking over for the Richmond Kickers as DC’s affiliate.

Loudoun United FC are under new manager, Ryan Martin, who has taken over for former manager Richie Williams, who departed at the end of May to join Bruce Arena’s staff at the New England Revolution. The Virginia-based club has only two players with multiple goals this season, Kyle Murphy with three and Orlando Sinclair with two.

Wednesday’s game will be Loudoun’s first since May 19, when they lost to Hartford Athletic 2-1 at home. The Swope Park Rangers are coming off a tough 1-0 loss away to the league’s best, the Tampa Bay Rowdies on May 25.

Paulo Nagamura’s side will look to get back where they left off before the bye week over the weekend. Felipe Hernandez seems to be the closest Ranger to earning a chance with Sporting Kansas City, he leads the team with four goals and is tied with Kharlton Belmar and Kevin Oliveira for most assists in team history with nine. SPR won just one game in May from five matches, but that month was without a doubt the best stretch this season for the Rangers.

SPR sit in 17th in the Eastern Conference of the USL Championship, but just two points separating them from the visitors. The Rangers will be looking to be stronger defensively, with just one clean sheet from 11 matches this season and giving up 26 goals, which is the third worst defensive record in the entire 36-team league. This is a good opportunity for SPR to get a second clean sheet of the season against the third lowest scoring team in the USL Championship.

Here is my predicted XI:

As the season starts to grow older, there needs to be more consistency in the lineups, and I think the manager will start to have a better grasp of what has worked and what hasn’t. Starting with the goalkeeper, John Pulskamp will return to the starting XI for his third career start after having two matches with multiple impressive saves. I think you have to stick with the back four that did so well against Tampa Bay, so Mark Segbers, Kaveh Rad, Mo Abdulnadi, and Alexander will retain their spots along with Camden Riley, Rassambek Akhmatov, and Felipe Hernandez in the midfield.

The only question is if Peter Vermes wants to get Jimmy Medranda minutes in this match, in which he would replace Alexander. Wilson Harris will also keep his spot, with Sean Karani on the right and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli on the left. If there’s one thing that needs to improve going forward, it has to be more goal-scoring production from whoever is playing forward, which is likely Wilson Harris or Ethan Vanacore-Decker, who have just one goal each.

This is 100% a winnable game for Swope Park, but Loudoun United aren’t the worst road team around, so SPR will have to show well once more.

Injury Updates

The Blue Testament’s Chad Smith had some updates on the long injured Swope Park Rangers. He reported that midfield Ayyoub Allach was set to return to practice last week during the bye. Also, former SKC Academy goalkeeper Brooks Thompson, who has missed the entire season, is set to come back seen in either mid to late June. It was also confirmed that former SKC Academy winger Camilo Benitez underwent hip surgery which explains his season-long absence. He isn’t due back until August or September.

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