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Rangers host familiar face with Hartford Athletic

The White Puma will make his return to Children’s Mercy Park for the first time since departing the Oklahoma City Energy.

Thad Bell

Swope Park Rangers vs Hartford Athletic

(#SPRvHFD)

When: Wednesday, July 17, 7:00 PM CT

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

How to Watch: ESPN+ ($4.99/ or 49.99 annually)

The Swope Park Rangers return to action Wednesday night, where they will face Hartford Athletic for the first time ever, who are led by a very familiar face to Sporting KC fans, Jimmy Nielsen.

Hartford Athletic enter the match coming from an impressive win over Indy Eleven last weekend. With three wins, four draws, and twelve losses in Hartford’s inaugural season, Nielsen’s side have given up 42 goals in 19 games, which is the most goals allowed in the Eastern Conference.

Leading Hartford Athletic in scoring with four goals is Jose Angulo with Harry Swartz following with three. Kansas City native and SKC Academy player, Ray Lee, who featured in several matches for the Kansas City Comets in 2018/19, has contributed one goal and two assists.

Wednesday’s meeting will be a clash between two teams desperate for every win they can get, with Hartford in 17th and the Rangers in 18th place in the USL Eastern Conference.

Swope Park Rangers enter the match with plenty of rest, following a 3-1 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 7. Felipe Hernandez will be available after serving his one game suspension on July 7. Hernandez has been pivotal for SPR this season with seven goals. After a disappointing first half of the season, Ethan Vanacore-Decker has now scored in two Stephane’s to take his tally to three goals this season.

Predicted XI

With both wins for SPR coming with John Pulskamp in goal, he will get the start along with Alexsander, Graham Smith, Kaveh Rad, and Mark Segbers. With Roger Espinoza and Erik Hurtado slowly returning from injury, either of them may be loaned for this game, but I’d expect them to get 20-30 minutes off the bench. To start in the midfield, it will be Ayyoub Allach, Wan Kuzain, and the return of Felipe Hernandez. The front three will be Jerome Ngom Mbekeli and Will Little on the wings and I hope Ethan Vanacore-Decker gets the start as his confidence continues with the more he scores.

This clash between two managers (Jimmy Nielsen of Hartford Athletic and Paulo Nagamura of Swope Park Rangers) who have provided Sporting KC with some of Sporting KC’s greatest and most nerve wracking moments (2012 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and 2013 MLS Cup) will go head-to-head as managers for the first time ever. This will be a great match that should not be missed.

This is most definitely a winnable game for both teams, but for SPR, a loss or draw would be disappointing.

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