Swope Park Rangers vs Tampa Bay Rowdies
When: Sunday, July 7, 4:00 PM CT
Where: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
How to Watch: ESPN+ ($4.99/ or 49.99 annually)
The Swope Park Rangers will host the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a clash of teams on opposite ends of the USL Championship table.
Tampa Bay enters Sunday’s clash in first place in all of the USL Championship with 36 points with 10 wins, one loss, and six draws. The Rowdies are coming off a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Fury, where Tampa Bay scores a dramatic late winner from Sebastián Guenzatti in the 90+2nd minute. The Rowdies enter the game unbeaten away from home with five wins and two draws.
Along with Guenzatti’s nine goals this season, Juan Tejada has produced six goals. Along with Indy Eleven, the Rowdies have been the best defense in the league, conceding just 10 goals from 17 games, with nine clean sheets for former Philadelphia Union keeper John McCarthy.
Tampa Bay has listed forward Jaime Siaj as doubtful and midfielder Andrew Tinari as questionable for Sunday’s matchup. Tampa Bay recently acquired Lucky Mkosana from Louisville City, where he scored four goals, but made his first appearance with the Rowdies as a substitute and provided the game-winning assist last weekend.
The Rangers sit in 16th place in the Eastern Conference after 16 matches with two wins, six draws, and eight losses. The Swope Park Rangers are coming off their second win of the season last Sunday over St. Louis FC. It will be a tall task for SPR to get any points out of Sunday’s match against USL’s best, especially without leading scorer Felipe Hernandez, who will serve a one game suspension tomorrow.
Without Hernandez, the Rangers leading goalscorers are Wilson Harris, Ethan Vanacore-Decker, and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli all have two goals.
An experienced goalkeeper will be needed, so Adrian Zendejas will return to the starting XI following last week’s suspension with Alexander, Camden Riley, Graham Smith, and Mark Segbers filling out the back four. Ayyoub Allach will retain his spot with Rassambek Akhmatov and Wan Kuzain stepping in for Felipe Hernandez. With what will likely be very little possession starts for the home side, transitioning quickly with speed could decide whether the Rangers are able to take anything from this game, so Jerome Ngom Mbekeli and Sean Karani will be on the wings as the rotation continues with Wilson Harris up top this week.
There will have to be a lot of defending, blocking, and energy used if SPR can expect to come away with anything against the Rowdies. The key to a win/draw will be outworking Tampa Bay.
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