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Rangers, Republic FC Take Aim at Conference Final

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/24/17, 5:02PM EDT

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Two former USL Cup finalists meet for first time in postseason

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – The defending USL Western Conference champion and No. 4-seed Swope Park Rangers and No. 8-seed Sacramento Republic FC are both coming off victories in a penalty shootout as they prepare to meet for the first time in the postseason in their Western Conference Semifinal of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs on Saturday night at Children’s Mercy Park. Kickoff for #SPRvSAC is set for 5 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on the USL Match Center.

The @SwopeRangers continued their perfect home record in the USL Cup Playoffs thanks in part to goalkeeper Darrin MacLeod, who capped his debut in the postseason with a crucial opening save that led to the Rangers earning a 4-2 victory in a shootout against No. 5-seed Phoenix Rising FC on Sunday evening. The Rangers had to fight back for the first time in their postseason history after the game had gone to extra time, with Didier Drogba scoring first for the hosts, but Amer Didic’s first playoff goal in the 113th minute leveled things up. That allowed SPR to take victory in the penalty shootout, as all four of Nansel Selbol, Christian Duke, Kharlton Belmar and Lebo Moloto converted from the spot.

@SacRepublicFC pulled off the biggest upset of the Western Conference Quarterfinals as it eliminated 2017 USL Regular Season-champion Real Monarchs SLC as goalkeeper Evan Newton came to the fore in a 3-1 penalty shootout victory at Rio Tinto Stadium. Newton saved a pair of penalty kicks to earn the second shootout victory in the USL Cup Playoffs as the trio of Hayden Partain, James Kiffe and Jeremy Hall all found the net with Republic FC’s first three shots. Republic FC will be looking for its first victory against Swope Park on Saturday evening, with the Rangers having gone 1-0-2 over their first three meetings.

Opta Says

  • 300 – Swope Park midfielder Christian Duke has made 300 passes into the attacking third in SPR home games this season, fourth-most in the USL, at an accuracy rate of 76.67 percent.

  • 35 – Republic FC defender James Kiffe won 35 tackles in Republic FC’s road contests this season – fifth-highest in the USL – at a success rate of 72.92 percent.

Projected Lineups

  • Swope Park (4-3-3) – GK: Darrin MacLeod; D: Colton Storm, Erik Palmer-Brown, Amer Didic, Parker Maher; M: James Musa, Christian Duke, Felipe Hernandez; F: Lebo Moloto, Kharlton Belmar, Tyler Pasher

  • Sacramento (4-3-1-2) – GK: Evan Newton; D: James Kiffe, Emrah Klimenta, Chris Christian, Elliot Hord; M: Jeremy Hall, Luis Espino, Agustin Cazarez; AM: Villyan Bijev; F: Wilson Kneeshaw, Sammy Ochoa  

Discipline

  • Swope Park – None

  • Sacramento – None

Officials

  • REF: RAMY TOUCHAN

  • AR1: Adrienne McDonald

  • AR2: Shane Kennard

  • 4TH: Ryan Cook

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