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Rangers prepare for tough test against Nashville

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Three former SPR players could feature for Nashville.

Thad Bell

Swope Park Rangers vs Nashville SC

(#SPRvNSH)

When: Saturday, August 3, 2019

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

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

After an unexpected week off, the Swope Park Rangers return home for a meeting with Nashville Soccer Club.

These two sides have already met this season, a game that SPR does not want to remember. A 5-1 loss in Nashville, with three Nashville goals in the opening 16 minutes.

Managed by 2010 MLS Cup-winning manager for Colorado Rapids, Gary Smith, Nashville has been one of the best offensive teams in the conference. With a 10-5-5 record, Nashville have scored 35 goals, which ranks second in the Eastern Conference. Between the posts will be former MLS Cup and US Open Cup-winning MLS veteran, Matt Pickens has been a big part of six of his side’s eight clean sheets. Three former SPR men, Kharlton Belmar, Lebo Moloto, and Liam Doyle, could see action in a return to Kansas City. Belmar has scored just one goal in 13 starts, Moloto has scored twice in 18 matches, and Doyle has made 15 starts. The forward that causes the most danger is Daniel Rios, who has scored 13 goals in 20 matches, including a brace when SPR visited Nashville in May.

Nashville is coming off a 2-0 win over the Indy Eleven from last weekend. SPR’s match last weekend was postponed until September 11 following Charleston Battery’s bus being involved in a traffic accident. The Rangers continue to be led in scoring by Felipe Hernandez, who has scored eight goals.

SPR could have some new faces feature with several recent signings from both SPR and Sporting Kansas City.

Predicted XI

Eric Dick will return to the starting XI for a team for the first time in more than a month. In front of him, the sensible back four would be Alexsander, Graham Smith, Kaveh Rad, and Mark Segbers. The midfield should include Ayyoub Allach, Felipe Hernandez, and Kelyn Rowe. The front three will be headlined with the first start for the former FC Porto player, Ze Pedro, who was finally announced on July 29. Ethan Vamacore-Decker and Jerome Ngom Mbekeli will be the other two forwards.

This isn’t much of a winnable game, but if the starting XI can play the game of their lives, anything can happen. The longer Nashville is held scoreless the more frustrated they will be.