Photo Courtesy Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kharlton Belmar needed less than four minutes to open the scoring for the Swope Park Rangers on Saturday, but Zach Kobayashi’s individual effort produced a second half equalizer that helped visiting Orange County SC earn a 1-1 draw at Children’s Mercy Victory Field. In the fourth minute, SPR captain Christian Duke delivered an incisive ball that cut through the middle of the OCSC defense and allowed Belmar to run on and send his shot through the legs of a rushing Charlie Lyon. The Rangers remained in the ascendency throughout the first half and into the closing frame but just over five minutes into the second half, Orange County midfielder Zach Kobayashi pressed high, forcing Parker Maher to misplay his clearance. The errant touch deflected off Kobayashi and sent the 19-year-old in on goal where he finished calmly to level the score. The result leaves Swope Park at 12-5-4 overall (40pts) and 7-2-2 at home while Orange County moves to 7-6-6 (27pts) overall and 3-4-4 on the road.
4’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Christian Duke)
51’ – OC – Zach Kobayashi
#SPRvOC: Full Match and Opta Box Score
Three Things That Matter:
1. Belmar’s goal was part of a fast start for Swope Park as the hosts dominated the ball in the opening frame, heading into the break with over 65 percent of possession. Four of the 24-year-old’s team-leading seven goals on the season have now come within friendly confines but SPR failed to see a home match in which it held a lead through to victory for only the second time this season, and the first since settling for a 2-2 draw against Phoenix Rising FC on June 18 in a contest that saw Didier Drogba bring the visitors back from one goal down on two separate occasions.
2. Playing for the fourth time in 11 days, Orange County fell behind at the outset, but was able to make Kobayashi’s equalizer stand up to capture an important point away from home. OCSC entered August with the luxury of having a number of games in hand over its fellow Western Conference playoff contenders but had been outscored, 6-1, through the first three of six games scheduled over a 17-day period (0-2-1). After becoming just the third different side to take points off the defending Western Conference champions at Children’s Mercy Victory Field this season, Head Coach Logan Pause and company will return to the Golden State for its next four contests, a stretch that includes showdowns with Tulsa Roughnecks FC (August 15) and Rising FC (August 18) with crucial points at stake next week.
3. One of the most consistent sides in the league, Swope Park still owns a sterling 8-1-4 record since the beginning of June, but recent results have seen added strain placed on the side’s defensive corps. Saturday marked the sixth time in the last eight matches that the Rangers have been held to one goal or less. In the final 10 minutes, Orange County often defended with 10 men behind the midfield line in an effort to preserve the draw but Swope Park may be left to rue a number of missed opportunities that prevented them from keeping the pressure on San Antonio FC in the race for second place in the Western Conference.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Zach Kobayashi, Orange County SC – Making just his second start and fifth appearance of the season, the 19-year-old midfielder found the mark on over 87 percent of his passes while his intervention flipped the game on its head and sent the visitors home with a point
Swope Park Rangers vs. Real Monarchs SLC – August 18, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children's Mercy Victory Field
Orange County SC vs. Tulsa Roughnecks FC – August 15, 10:30 p.m. ET, Orange County Great Park