Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Swope Park Rangers booked their place in the 2016 USL Playoffs as Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Tyler Pasher each had a goal and assist in a 3-0 win against OKC Energy FC at Taft Stadium on Sunday night. Energy FC had chances early on, but the Rangers took the lead in the 15th minute when a chipped pass by Mark Anthony Gonzalez played in Dane Kelly for a strong finish from 15 yards and the lead. Gonzalez then struck nine minutes later as Tyler Pasher turned his defender well and sent a low cross to the top of the six-yard area for Gonzalez’s to turn home for his ninth goal of the season. Pasher added a goal to his assist nine minutes before the halftime break as a pass by Christian Duke split the defense allowing the Canadian forward to finish from the top of the penalty area. OKC tried to rally after the break, and Timo Pitter almost found the net with a shot that went just wide. Colin Bonner also sent a header just wide late on, but the Rangers were able to withstand the hosts’ pressure as they salted away a second consecutive three-goal victory.
15’ – SPR – Dane Kelly (Mark Anthony Gonzalez)
24’ – SPR – Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Tyler Pasher)
36’ – SPR – Tyler Pasher (Christian Duke)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Swope Park had to weather an early storm, but over the course of the first half showed the attacking incisiveness that has marked the side’s run to clinching a playoff berth in its inaugural season in the USL. Mark Anthony Gonzalez and Tyler Pasher each finished with a goal and assist as the visitors looked arguably more impressive than when they accomplished the same feat last week at home against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, and moved into fifth place in the USL Western Conference.
2. One of Energy FC’s hallmarks this season was, no matter how the side’s attack was performing, its defense would be watertight. With nine goals conceded in its past three games, some issues will need to be addressed as the side enters its final two games of the regular season. Swope Park’s Tyler Pasher in particular took advantage of OKC’s defense as the Rangers built their three-goal first half lead, and both Vancouver and Saint Louis could offer similar wide threats in Energy FC’s final two games of the regular season.
3. The Rangers not only clinched a place in the postseason on Sunday night, but also gave the side a chance at a top-four finish with two games to play over the final week of the regular season. With a visit to Tulsa on Wednesday night preceding a contest with a Seattle Sounders FC 2 side that was all-but eliminated from postseason in its home finale. Two wins, and SPR will get the chance to host a Western Conference Quarterfinal.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Tyler Pasher, Swope Park Rangers – Pasher proved a threat throughout the game from the left flank, and set up the Rangers’ second goal of the night before scoring himself to lead SPR into the playoffs.
OKC Energy FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – Sept. 21, 10 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium
Swope Park Rangers at Tulsa Roughnecks FC – Sept. 21, 8:30 p.m. ET, ONEOK Field