Swope Park Rangers vs Charlotte Independence
When: Saturday, June 6, 2019 at 4:00 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
How to watch: ESPN+ (5.99/month)
The 1-4-7 Swope Park Rangers host the Charlotte Independence Saturday afternoon in a battle with just a single point separating the two sides this season. This will be the first ever meeting between these two sides. The Independence enter the match winless from their last seven matches and are winless away from home.
The Charlotte Independence are led by manager Jim McGuinness, who has an interesting background. He became famous across Ireland for Gaelic Football, a completely separate sport from soccer, winning the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship as a player and manager with Donegal. He didn’t get into soccer management until 2012, when he joined Scottish giants Celtic to work with there academy while simultaneously managing Donegal Gaelic Football. McGuinness was named assistant coach for Beijing Sinobo Guoan FC of the Chinese Super League in 2017 before taking over as manager for Charlotte Independence in December of 2018.
The Independence are led by former MLS journeyman, Dom Oduro, who has five goals in the 33 year old’s first season outside of the MLS in more than a decade. Charlotte is anchored defensively by Andrew Gutman, who is on loan from Celtic, who was purchased by Scottish champions after winning the Hermann Award as the best men’s college soccer player. Enzo Martinez, former Colorado Rapid, leads Charlotte with four assists.
Alex Martinez, brother of Enzo also plays for Charlotte and was with Sporting KC in 2014.
Oduro and the Independence will be without several players. In a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Fury last weekend, Joel Johnson and Hugh Roberts were given red cards, so they will serve there suspension on Saturday. Charlotte will also be without Kevan George (Trinidad and Tobago) and Michael Maria (Curaçao) as they prepare for the Gold Cup.
The Rangers are led in goals by Felipe Hernandez, who added his fifth goal of the season in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Loudoun United. Alexander’s two assists on Wednesday put him at five assists this season, tying the Brazilian fullback for third most in the USL Championship.
The only Sporting players on the roster may be Adrian Zendejas and Tyler Freeman. After so many positive performances in the last month, a second win is really needed to continue the team’s progression.
Here is my predicted XI:
Due to the short week, there will likely be another starting XI with much change. From the three SPR keepers on the roster and two Sporting reserves, I would expect Eric Dick to start, but it could be any other other four players as well. Alexander and Mark Segbers will likely keep their spots at left back and right back, with Mo Abdulnadi and Kaveh Rad as the two center halves. After returning from injury on Wednesday, I fully expect Ayyoub Allach to be out of the starting XI, with Camden Riley replacing him and Felipe Hernandez providing the spark when attacking. I expect Jake Davis to return to the starting XI for the first time since May 22. Ethan Vanacore-Decker will replace Wilson Harris after Harris scored his second goal of the season in Wednesday’s loss with Jerome Ngom Mbekeli and Will Little starting on the wings.
As long as the Rangers defense can contain Oduro and Martinez, the Independence don’t have offer too much outside of the two former MLS players.