Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – Kharlton Belmar scored the only goal of the game as the Swope Park Rangers ran their winning streak to six games with a 1-0 win against the Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. Both teams threatened early, with Nansel Selbol’s opening shot for SPR forcing a good save by T2’s Kendall McIntosh, while Portland’s Omar Mohamed curled a free kick just wide of the right post. Swope Park also went close nine minutes before halftime as Kevin Oliveira sent a shot just over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. Lebo Moloto had a pair of chances for the Rangers go high either side of halftime, but the Rangers took the lead on the hour-mark as Belmar scored against his former team off a good cross by Nansel Selbol. Portland tried to break down the Swope Park defense in the final 20 minutes, but the visitors looked the more threatening as they tried to counter and add an insurance goal, Selbol’s cross through the six-yard area just lacking a final touch. T2 had a late chance on the half-volley by Villyan Bijev that was well saved by Adrian Zendejas, but the Rangers were solid in stoppage time to earn a fourth consecutive shutout victory.
60’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Nansel Selbol)
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Rangers claimed their sixth consecutive victory, and a fourth consecutive while recording a shutout, to continue their push to join the duel at the top of the Western Conference standings with another composed road performance at Providence Park. In a game that saw plenty of entertaining soccer, and some good moments from both sides throughout the contest. The Swope Park defense proved the difference in the end, though, as the side gave T2 relatively few good looks at goal, with Adrian Zendejas’ late save to deny Villyan Bijev the only effort that required being kept out. Two for two now in the club’s trip to the Pacific Northwest, the Rangers are closing in fast on Real Monarchs SLC and San Antonio FC.
2. Maybe the biggest duel in Sunday’s contest was that down the Swope Park left, where the Rangers consistently looked to try and get Nansel Selbol in space to run at the T2 defense. Opposing the young Nigerian, though, was Harold Hanson, who put in a stellar shift, as he has for much of the season as one of the bright spots in Portland’s lineup as he entered the game with 15 interceptions and 14 tackles won this season. After Selbol’s early shot on goal, Hanson read developing plays well, made timely interceptions and challenges. Hanson still has plenty to learn, but on his 18th birthday he put in another creditable performance.
3. For the second time in as many games this season, Kharlton Belmar came back to haunt his former club has the Swope Park forward scored his sixth goal this season, and second against the side he claimed the USL Rookie of the Year award with two seasons ago. Belmar had 15 goals across two seasons with T2, and has now passed 20 for his USL career as he looks to break through at a higher-level. Recently put in a role that sees him provide an attacking boost off the bench for SPR, his second game-winner in as many games helped keep the Rangers rolling along.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Kharlton Belmar, Swope Park Rangers – For a second consecutive game, Belmar came in off the bench and made the difference, logging his sixth goal of the season for another SPR victory.
Portland Timbers 2 at Reno 1868 FC – July 22, 10:30 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field
Swope Park Rangers at Seattle Sounders FC 2 – July 20, 10:30 p.m. ET, Starfire Stadium