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Rangers Welcome Energy FC for Western Final

By NICHOLAS MURRAY - nicholas.murray@uslsoccer.com, 10/31/17, 1:28PM EDT

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SPR aims for back-to-back conference titles, OKC for first USL Cup trip

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Two teams that have previously reached the Western Conference Final of the USL Cup Playoffs will meet for the first time in the postseason when the No. 4-seed Swope Park Rangers play host to No. 6-seed OKC Energy FC at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night, with the Rangers looking for back-to-back Western Conference Championships and Energy FC hoping to advance to its first USL Cup. Kickoff for #SPRvOKC is set for 8:30 p.m. ET and the game can be seen live on the USL Match Center.

The @SwopeRangers continued their perfect home record in the postseason with a 1-0 victory against Sacramento Republic FC this past Saturday, putting the side within a win of reaching the USL Cup for a second consecutive year. The result also extended the Rangers current home undefeated streak to eight games, with Swope Park having last lost on home turf on July 30 against Reno 1868 FC, only of only two home defeats the side suffered this season.

Belmar’s goal also continued the forward’s standout year, with the 2015 USL Rookie of the Year having notched 15 goals across the regular season and playoffs. Having taken a 3-0 victory at this stage last season against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, when Kris Tyrpak’s two goals led the side to victory, the Rangers could become the first side to reach the USL Cup in back-to-back seasons, and only the third to make a second trip to the championship game overall after Orlando City SC (2011, 2013) and the Harrisburg City Islanders (2011, 2014).

@EnergyFC returns to the Western Conference Final for the second time in three seasons, and will be aiming to continue its outstanding run of form to earn a first visit to the USL Cup. Two seasons ago, OKC played host to the LA Galaxy II at Taft Stadium, only for the No. 5-seed Los Dos to pull off the upset of No. 2-seed Energy FC with a 2-1 win.

This time around Energy FC is the side looking to continue its underdog run, having previously taken road victories against No. 3-seed Reno 1868 FC and No. 2-seed San Antonio FC. Goalkeeper C.J. Cochran has come up big in both of OKC’s prior upsets, and made a pair of saves in a penalty shootout to send Energy FC through against SAFC. Also key in both games has been Wojciech Wojcik, who has two goals in two games as Energy FC has continued its outstanding late-season form into the playoffs.

Opta Says

  • 480 – Swope Park center back Amer Didic has played in every minute of the club’s six previous contests in the USL Cup Playoffs, the only player to do so in the squad.

  • 195 – Energy FC midfielder Jose Barril won 195 of 320 duels in the USL regular season, the fourth-highest total in the league and a success rate of 60.9 percent.

Projected Lineups

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

  • OKC Energy FC (4-4-2) – GK: C.J. Cochran; D: Kyle Hyland, Mickey Daly, Anthony Wallace, Richard Dixon; M: Alex Dixon, Juan Pablo Guzman, Jose Barril, Miguel Gonzalez; F: Jose Angulo, Wojciech Wojcik

Discipline

  • Swope Park – None

  • OKC – None

Officials

  • REF: ROBERT SIBIGA

  • AR1: Gjovalin Bori

  • AR2: Trent Vanhaitsma

  • 4TH: Shane Kennard

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