Photo courtesy Chris Ortiz / Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Swope Park Rangers implemented their possession-heavy plan from start to finish, but Phoenix Rising FC striker Didier Drogba had the answer on two separate occasions to help Rising FC earn a 2-2 draw on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Victory Field. Swope Park’s Kevin Oliveira and Nansel Selbol each converted their penalty kick chances, giving the Rangers the lead on both occasions. Drogba, though, responded in each instance – a 57th-minute equalizer that clipped the inside of the left post and an 89th-minute penalty kick to cap off his first USL road game. The Rangers move to 5-4-2 (17 points) overall and 5-1-1 at home. Rising FC is now 5-5-1 (16 points) overall and 1-3-1 on the road.
26’ – SPR – Kevin Oliveira (penalty)
57’ – PHX – Didier Drogba (Shaun Wright-Phillips)
62’ – SPR – Nansel Selbol (penalty)
89’ – PHX – Didier Drogba (penalty)
#SPRvPHX: Full match and Opta box score
Three Things That Mattered:
1. Those expecting something similar to the seven-goal scoring spree from the first meeting saw a much more toned-down offensive game, though eventually some scoring moments arose. Rising FC won the first meeting 4-3 on April 23. This time out, Swope Park was on the front foot virtually from the opening kickoff. With more than 70 percent of the possession through the opening half, the Rangers patiently picked their moments to try and cut through the Rising FC defense. Swope Park finally built its first goal-scoring moment when Lebo Moloto made a near-left-post run to draw a foul in the box against Phoenix center back JJ Greer. That led to Kevin Oliveira converting a 26th-minute penalty kick, a driven ball into the right side of the frame as Rising FC goalkeeper Josh Cohen dove in the opposite direction. Oliveira now has three goals in two games against Phoenix this season. In a carbon-copy situation, Christian Duke drew some contact in the second half and Nansel Selbol converted in the 62nd minute, with Cohen once again diving the wrong way to take a 2-1 lead.
2. Phoenix striker Didier Drogba competed in his first road USL match of the season, and getting touches were few and far between against the Rangers. The center back pairing of Amer Didic and Liam Doyle was pinned to Drogba on a number of occasions. The only minor chance in the first half was a free kick opportunity, which Drogba looped over the wall but went directly to Swope Park goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas. In the second half, though, Drogba found a moment in the run of play after Zendejas coughed up the ball. Shaun Wright-Phillips took advantage, dished to Drogba and he slotted the ball to the left side of the frame, ricocheted off of the inside of the left post and crossing the goal line to tie the score at 1-1 in the 57th minute.
3. Phoenix’s Omar Bravo didn’t get the start, but he found his way into the match in the 69th minute when he subbed for Wright-Phillips. Bravo featured for Major League Soccer’s Sporting Kansas City during the 2011 season. Bravo tried to draw some contact in the penalty area on three occasions, and in the final minutes he felt some contact with Didic and drew the PK. Drogba took the 88th-minute PK opportunity and shot to the left of the frame. Zendejas guessed correctly, but the ball was just out of his reach as Phoenix came away with a road point.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Didier Drogba, Phoenix Rising FC – The veteran striker tallied twice despite some limited scoring chances to help Phoenix earn a draw.
Swope Park Rangers vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – June 21, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Victory Field
Phoenix Rising FC vs. Real Monarchs SLC – June 24, 10:30 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex