The Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC travel to Kansas City for their first midweek-match of 2018 this Wednesday evening against the Swope Park Rangers. Wednesday’s game will take place at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas – the home of the Rangers’ Major League Soccer affiliate, Sporting Kansas City.
“The stadium is nice and we’ll be able to play because it’s a big field and that could help our game,” said Switchbacks Head Coach Steve Trittschuh on Monday morning. “It’s been cold here so we missed part of a day to train as we’d like, but today would have been more about regeneration anyway. There’s nothing we can do about the conditions today, but by Wednesday it’ll be fine. It will be nice to be on the MLS stadium field and we will need to play well early.”
The game against the Switchbacks will be the lone match of 2018 that the Swope Park Rangers will play at Children’s Mercy Park. This season will see Shawnee Mission South District Stadium in Overland Park, Kansas host sixteen USL regular season games. On March 24th, the Rangers defeated the Seattle Sounders FC 2 by 4-2 in the 2018 home opener at Shawnee Mission South District Stadium behind a classy brace from striker Kharlton Belmar.
Back-to-back four goal outbursts saw the Swope Park Rangers win their opening two matches of 2018. A 4-3 win at Greater Nevada Field against Reno 1868 FC was followed a week later by the aforementioned 4-2 win against the Seattle Sounders 2. Kharlton Belmar leads the Rangers in goals with four after he bagged a pair in each of the Rangers’ victories. Stopping the Virginia Beach native will be of paramount importance this Wednesday, with Belmar either scoring or assisting six goals for the Rangers this season.
Belmar’s exploits have seen the striker named on the USL Team of the Week twice in 2018 – and Belmar was the Player of the Week after the Rangers’ 4-3 Week 1 victory against Reno 1868 FC. Belmar is now SPR’s all-time leading goal scorer with 19.
“Swope Park are dangerous up-top,” said Trittschuh. “We’ve seen how many goals they’ve scored this season. Hadji Barry and Belmar are both dynamic and dangerous. Belmar is playing well – he’s a very good player and we have to watch him and not give him too much space to play. They’re a very dangerous team with the ball.”
Brazilian Head Coach Paulo Nagamura will be looking to guide the Swope Park Rangers to victory after his club were beaten 2-1 by the Las Vegas Lights FC on Saturday evening at Cashman Field in Nevada. The Swope Park Rangers were unlucky to lose against the expansion franchise from Las Vegas, as the Rangers had more than 60% of possession and outshot the Lights FC by 10 to 6.
Guatemalan midfielder and SPR captain Rodrigo Saravia notched the only goal for the Swope Park Rangers in Saturday evening’s loss to the Las Vegas Lights. Saravia’s 18th minute strike was followed by quality chances for SPR, but Lights’ goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño stood strong and kept SPR to the single goal. SPR’s Colton Storm was on the wrong end of a defensive mix-up with goalkeeper Eric DIck in the 71st minute as the defender headed into his own net to give the Lights all three points.
Despite playing well and out-shooting their opponents 11-8, the Switchbacks were held scoreless on March 31st against Saint Louis FC in a 1-0 loss at Toyota Stadium in Missouri. “It’s not like we haven’t created chances,” said Trittschuh. “I’d be concerned if we weren’t seeing opportunities. We had a lot of possession the other night – we did well and had some good chances and should have scored. We need to find players to score goals. I don’t know who Swope Park will bring for the game on Wednesday – [Sporting] KC don’t play until the end of the week so we’ll see who will play against us. They’re a good team no matter what.”
The Switchbacks will host Rio Grande Valley FC this Saturday at Weidner Field on 2000’s Theme Night. The first 500 fans in attendance will receive the first part of the 2018 Poster Giveaway Series, courtesy of Kneaders Bakery & Café.
June 9th will see the reverse fixture, with the Swope Park Rangers visiting Colorado Springs on Cancer Awareness Night presented by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services.