June 18, 2017 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Sporting Kansas City
(June 18, 2017) - The Swope Park Rangers (5-4-2, 6th place) moved back into playoff position with a 2-2 draw against Phoenix Rising FC (5-5-1, 10th place) on Sunday at Children's Mercy Victory Field in Swope Soccer Village. Twenty-one-year-old Kevin Oliveira and 20-year-old Nansel Selbol each converted penalty kicks to twice give SPR the lead, however Phoenix drew a controversial penalty of their own in the 89th minute and 39-year-old Didier Drogba stepped to the spot to score the late equalizer with his second goal of the match.
The propensity for penalties in the all-time match-up continued, this time with referee Katja Koroleva, as a total of seven penalty kicks have now been scored by six different players in the three-game history between the clubs. The first of three penalties on Sunday came in the 26th minute after J.J. Greer was whistled for bringing down Lebo Moloto at the near post as both players raced toward a cross from Tyler Pasher.
Oliveira, who scored twice against Phoenix Rising FC earlier in the season, successfully converted the ensuing attempt and the Rangers would hold the 1-0 lead into the 57th minute when the man of the moment for the USL, Didier Drogba, came through for the visitors.
The Phoenix Rising FC co-owner debuted last week with a goal and an assist in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 and he put his name on the scoresheet again in USL Week 13 with a well-placed shot from the top of the penalty area that struck off the inside of the post. The goal came moments after Swope Park Rangers goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas had made a diving save to deny Shaun Wright-Phillips' first-time effort on a free kick taken by Drogba.
The Rangers did well to respond by reclaiming the lead in the 62nd minute. Club captain Christian Duke was brought down in the area by A.J. Gray and Selbol took his turn to capitalize on a penalty kick, sending Phoenix goalkeeper Josh Cohen the wrong way to net his second goal of the season.
One week after SPR earned a 91st minute penalty kick to capture the full three points against Tulsa Roughnecks FC, the club was on the opposite side of a late refereeing decision this time around. Former Sporting Kansas City striker Omar Bravo, who appeared to be a step offside in the play leading up to the penalty, went down under contact from Amer Didic.
Drogba made no mistake in burying the subsequent penalty kick as SPR allowed multiple goals for the first time in Zendejas' 11 career USL regular season appearances despite three saves on the day.
The Rangers will conclude a three-game homestand at 7:30 p.m. CT on Wednesday, June 21 at Swope Soccer Village against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (5-4-5, 3rd place). Tickets for the mid-week match-up are available online at SeatGeek.com or at the venue box office prior to kickoff. Swope Park Rangers vs. Phoenix Rising FC