Photo courtesy Michael Rincon / Phoenix Rising FC
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The defending USL Western Conference champion and No. 4-seed Swope Park Rangers play host to No. 5-seed Phoenix Rising FC in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs at Children’s Mercy Victory Field on Saturday night as Rising FC makes its postseason debut after a strong second half of the regular season. Kickoff for #SPRvPHX is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on the USL Match Center.
The @SwopeRangers enter the postseason as the No. 4-seed for a second consecutive year after last season riding its late-season momentum to a place at the 2016 USL Cup. This season Swope Park hit some bumps in the road late in the regular season, but still enters the playoffs with four wins in its last six outings as standout striker Kharlton Belmar recorded a career-high 14 goals. The Rangers are looking for their first victory against Phoenix in the short history between the sides on Saturday night having gone 0-1-2 in the first three regular-season meetings between the clubs, but will look back on the 2-2 draw between the sides in June that saw Phoenix need a late equalizer as a potential model for victory.
@PhxRisingFC’s playoff debut caps a remarkable year that saw the side surge in the second half of the season to finish level with the Rangers on points, but miss out on hosting the club’s first postseason contest on goal differential. A revamped lineup including the likes of former Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba and former England international Shaun Wright-Phillips provided the platform for the side’s upturn this season, but it was the introduction of Patrice Carteron as Head Coach that marked a watershed moment for the club. Since Carteron’s arrival, Rising FC has gone 13-3-7, including a run of 11-1-4 over the second half of the regular season. Phoenix’s tighter defensive organization and strong counterattack make for a great contrast in styles in this matchup.
13,778 – The Swope Park Rangers completed a league-high 13,778 passes during the USL regular season at a league-leading accuracy rate of 83 percent.
9 – Phoenix Rising FC recorded nine shutouts in the USL regular season, all of which came following the appointment of Patrice Carteron as Head Coach at the club.
Swope Park (4-3-3) – GK: Adrian Zendejas; D: Colton Storm, Oumar Ballo, Liam Doyle, Tyler Pasher; M: Christian Duke, Kevin Oliveira, Felipe Hernandez; F: Lebo Moloto, Kharlton Belmar, Nansel Selbol
Phoenix (4-4-2) – GK: Josh Cohen; D: Amadou Dia, Peter Ramage, Doue Mala, Kody Wakasa; M: Alessandro Riggi, Matt Watson, Kevon Lambert, Jason Johnson; F: Didier Drogba, Chris Cortez
Swope Park – None
Phoenix – None
REF: GUIDO GONZALES JR
AR1: Jeremy Kieso
AR2: Matthew Seem
4TH: Matt Miller