Photo courtesy Nick Tre. Smith / Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Swope Park Rangers took a 4-0 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Victory Field to earn their fourth consecutive victory. The Toros had the first real look on goal in the fifth minute as Ruben Luna shot over from outside the penalty area, but from there the Rangers began to have the better of the game. Swope Park’s James Musa hit the crossbar with a header from Kevin Oliveira’s cross, and Lebo Moloto managed to miss from close range in the 37th minute after breaking past two defenders in the penalty area. Moloto finally broke the deadlock two minutes later, however, as he was played in by Kevin Oliveira, rounded the goalkeeper and finished, and the Rangers made it two in first-half stoppage time as Mark Anthony Gonzalez got in behind on Moloto’s pass and finished from a remarkably tight angle on the right side of the penalty area. The Rangers added a third early in the second half as Colton Storm’s shot from the right side of the penalty area deflected into the net after a clever back-heel by Moloto. The Rangers continued to have the better chances as the second half went on, and added a fourth with six minutes to go as Oliveira picked up his second assist of the night on a goal by Cameron Iwasa. With a fourth consecutive victory under their belts, Swope Park’s pursuit of the top two is on in earnest.
39’ – SPR – Lebo Moloto (Kevin Oliveira)
45+’ – SPR – Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Lebo Moloto)
49’ – SPR – Colton Storm (Lebo Moloto)
84’ – SPR – Cameron Iwasa (Kevin Oliviera)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Swope Park Rangers had an inconsistent spell of form early in the season, but after earning their fourth consecutive victory on Saturday night again look very like the side that claimed the Western Conference championship a season ago. Swope Park controlled the majority of possession, and after some early miscues in front of goal were decisive late in the first half as first Lebo Moloto and then Mark Anthony Gonzalez produced perfectly-timed runs to get in behind the Toros defense to finish. Gonzalez’s effort, in particular, showed the technique on the side, with his finish from close to the goal line perfectly struck to sneak home from an almost impossible angle.
2. Lebo Moloto has been a strong addition for the Rangers this season after previously having featured prominently for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The attacking midfielder might have flubbed his lines on his first big chance of the game eight minutes before halftime, but from then on he was at his best as he first converted the opening goal of the game with a calm finish and then set up Gonzalez for a second just before the halftime break. Maybe his best moment of the match came early in the second half as his clever back-heel set up Colton Storm for a decisive third, from which there was no way back for the Toros.
3. The Toros struggled to get a foothold in the game on Saturday night, and now will have to try and regroup as they look to get their push for the USL Cup Playoffs back on track. While Rio Grande Valley was able to take a fortunate win last weekend against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, the struggles the side has faced recently showed up again, and they will need to make the most of the short break in the schedule before they return on July 19 back at H-E-B Park to try and get things turned back around.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Lebo Moloto, Swope Park Rangers – Moloto’s goal and two assists were the pick of a strong attacking night for the Rangers as they swept to another impressive win.
Swope Park Rangers at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – July 12, 3 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium
Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Orange County SC – July 19, 8:30 p.m. ET, H-E-B Park