Photo courtesy Chris Ortiz / Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Swope Park Rangers rallied from a two-goal halftime deficit to take a 2-2 draw with Real Monarchs SLC on Friday night at Children’s Mercy Victory Field as the Monarchs increased their lead to 11 points at the top of the Western Conference. The Rangers got on the front foot early, and Lebo Moloto had a header bounce over the crossbar on a back-post corner kick from the right in the sixth minute. The Monarchs took the lead two minutes later, however, as Daniel Haber put home an outstanding free kick from 25 yards into the top-left corner. Swope Park looked for an equalizer, but the Monarchs doubled their lead in the 26th minute as Andrew Brody retrieved an over-hit corner on the right side, and his cross picked out Kyle Curinga for a header into the right corner of the net from the top of the six-yard area. The Rangers almost pulled a goal back just before the break as a corner from the right was flicked on at the near post, and Moloto’s header forced a save by Real goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel. Swope Park again went close just before the hour-mark as Mark Anthony Gonzalez got past Curinga, but had his finish cleared off the line, but on the hour-mark Nansel Selbol fired home a good finish from 25 yards into the left corner. Gonzalez went close again moments later, shooting just wide of the right post, while Kharlton Belmar headed over a cross from the left by Selbol with 13 minutes to go. Belmar made no mistake five minutes later, however, as Tyler Pasher overlapped Selbol on the left, and delivered a low cross to the back post for the forward to put home his eighth goal of the season. The Monarchs almost regained the lead in the final minute as Skylar Milne almost took advantage of a defensive mistake, only to be denied by SPR goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas, which allowed both sides to depart with a point.
8’ – SLC – Daniel Haber
26’ – SLC – Kyle Curinga (Andrew Brody)
60’ – SPR – Nansel Selbol (Kharlton Belmar)
82’ – SPR – Kharlton Belmar (Tyler Pasher)
Three Things That Matter:
1. While they held more possession overall in the first half, the Monarchs reached the break with only three shots total, but given the clinical nature of the side’s finishing the two-goal lead they took into halftime was deserved. An outstanding finish by Daniel Haber that had Real Salt Lake Head Coach Mike Petke chiming in on its quality on Twitter opened the scoring eight minutes in, and Andrew Brody’s excellent delivery to set up Kyle Curinga’s 26th-minute finish marked his second start since returning from injury nicely. Having entered the game converting 21 percent of their chances this season, the Monarchs again were decisive when chances arrived.
2. The Rangers halftime introduction of Nansel Selbol and Kharlton Belmar turned the game strongly in favor of the hosts, and it wasn’t a surprise when the duo combined to pull a goal back in the 60th minute. Swope Park’s leading scorer, Belmar this time played set-up man for Selbol, whose fifth goal of the season was a beautiful strike into the left corner. The speed both players brought allowed Swope Park to stretch the field more, getting the Monarchs’ defenders turned, which forced serious adjustment for the visitors.
3. As strongly as the Rangers pressed after scoring an excellent goal to level with eight minutes to go, Kharlton Belmar’s team-leading eight of the season, the game ending level was probably a fair result after the way the Monarchs had played before the break. More than that, though, the game lived up to the expectations going into this top-three Western Conference clash, and would certainly be a matchup that would be welcomed when the postseason arrives. The level of attacking options on display produced excellent entertainment, and one of the better draws you could hope to see.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Nansel Selbol, Swope Park Rangers – Selbol scored an outstanding finish to get the Rangers back in the game, and then played a role in Kharlton Belmar’s equalizer to earn SPR a point.
Swope Park Rangers at Sacramento Republic FC – August 23, 11 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Real Monarchs SLC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC – August 25, 9 p.m. ET, Rio Tinto Stadium