Photo courtesy Nick Tre Smith/Swope Park Rangers
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A marathon shootout, going 11 rounds ended with the No. 4-seed Swope Park Rangers' goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas proving the hero on both sides of the spot, saving the final No. 6-seed OKC Energy FC penalty kick before scoring his own to get the 7-6 penalty shootout win following a 0-0 draw at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday night in the Western Conference Final of the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. In the early stages of the match the USL Player of the Month for October, Jose Angulo, was afforded too much space just outside the box, allowing him to turn and shoot for Energy FC, but his effort went agonizingly wide. Zendejas kept things scoreless in the 37th minute when Energy FC's Jonathan Brown received the ball in space on the edge of the area, firing it powerfully along the ground only for Zendejas to reach out a big glove to make the save. The Rangers had their first clear chance early in the second half as Kharlton Belmar showed his speed and made a great run, squaring for Lebo Moloto, but Energy FC's Juan Pablo Guzman blocked the shot well. SPR's Nansel Selbol could have sealed the win in the 72nd minute as a ball over the top found the fresh substitute but OKC defender Mickey Daly managed a perfect last gasp challenge to keep it scoreless, a vital challenge as the match ended scoreless and went to extra time. In the 102nd minute Moloto was given too much time in the box, allowing him to control and cut inside only for Energy FC goalkeeper CJ Cochran to get in the way of it blocking it with his face to keep the match scoreless. With just two minutes to play in extra time a Belmar run put him through one-on-one with Cochran but somehow sent it wide of goal, a crucial miss which would send the match to penalties, won by the Rangers who became the first ever side to make two consecutive USL Cups.
OKC – 9-Jose Angulo, Saved; 17-Jonathan Brown, Goal; 3-Kyle Hyland, Missed; 22-Anthony Wallace, Saved; 10-Miguel Gonzalez, Goal; 12-Daniel Gonzalez, Goal; 5-Mickey Daly, Goal; 28-Wojciech Wojcik, Goal; 6-Chad Bond, Saved; 4-Sam Fink, Goal; 88-CJ Cochran, Saved
SPR – 31- Nansel Selbol, Goal; 32-Christian Duke, Saved; 90-Kharlton Belmar, Goal; 42-Lebo Moloto, Missed; 85-Felipe Hernandez, Saved; 58-Dakota Barnathan, Goal; 23-Colton Storm, Goal; 41-James Musa, Goal; 55-Amer Didic, Saved; 44-Parker Maher, Goal; 1-Adrian Zendejas, Goal
Three Things That Matter:
1. Two trends for OKC Energy FC in the USL Cup Playoffs at opposite ends of the park continued in this match. The first was CJ Cochran in goal, who continued his impressive form, keeping a clean sheet. Cochran has conceded just four goals since coming in as the starting goalkeeper following an injury to Cody Laurendi. With a scoreless match from Energy FC, Wojciech Wojcik continued his run of being the only scorer for Energy FC in the playoffs.
2. The Rangers continued a trend that has been the case all season as they continued to dominate the possession battle. The Rangers led the entire USL in possession during the regular season and that has not changed throughout the USL Cup Playoffs, with the Rangers managing 61 percent of possession throughout the match.
3. For the first time in USL history, a team has managed to go to back-to-back USL Cups, with the Swope Park Rangers looking to go one better than last year after managing the phenomenal achievement. The feat is especially impressive for the Rangers, who have achieved the feat in their first two seasons, managing to claim the Western Conference Championship in both seasons.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Adrian Zendejas, Swope Park Rangers – In what was the longest ever penalty shootout in USL history, Zendejas came up with multiple huge saves before wrapping it up himself with a well taken penalty.
Swope Park Rangers – USL Cup at Louisville City FC, Nov. 13 9p.m. ET
OKC Energy FC – End of Season