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Rangers hang on for win over Hartford Athletic

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Felipe Hernandez scores his eighth goal this season while Kelyn Rowe scored goals two and three in a Rangers jersey.

Thad Bell

The Swope Park Rangers defeated Jimmy Nielsen-managed Hartford Athletic 4-3 in a game that didn’t lack goals.

Paulo Nagamura set out a side with six Sporting Kansas City loanees: Erik Hurtado, Tyler Freeman, Kelyn Rowe, Jimmy Medranda, Wan Kuzain, and Graham Smith. The three in the midfield from SKC meant that Felipe Hernandez was pushed out to the wing.

It didn’t take long for the home side to open the scoring, as Felipe Hernandez capitalized on former Sporting KC Academy and KC Comets player Ray Lee’s mistake in a very awkward situation in the seventh minute.

Kelyn Rowe then went on and had the most productive three minutes of his time in Kansas City, scoring two goals, with one in the 27th minute from a rocket sent into the top corner and the other off a counter attack with Erik Hurtado in the 30th minute.

Just seconds into the second half, Camden Riley’s clearance was fired into the top corner of his own net to bring the game to 3-1. The Rangers seemed to kill off any comeback that Hartford had in mind as Tyler Freeman fires his shot from short range into the top corner before the keeper had time to react in the 50th minute.

SPR near complete collapse started in the 58th minute when Alex Dixon found his way past the Rangers defense and smashed his shot past Thompson. A moment on his professional debut that he will not soon forget, Brooks Thompson cleared it right into Mac Steeves, who then had a simple finish to make it 4-3 with 16 minutes to play.

With this win, the Rangers have climbed from 18th to 15th place on 15 points from three wins, six draws, and nine losses. Hartford drop into last place in the Eastern Conference with 13 points from three wins, four draws, and thirteen losses.

The first half was heavily dominated by SPR, along with three goals and 67% of possession, they doubled the amount of passes than their opposition. The second half wasn’t quite as successful, as SPR had a difficult time keeping the ball as Hartford gained momentum.

The Rangers hit the road as they go north of the border to face the Ottawa Fury on Saturday, July 20.