Match Preview - SPR vs. VAN

Whitecaps FC 2 visit Swope Park Rangers in Western Conference Final rematch on Friday

Whitecaps FC 2 look to get back into the win column this Friday in a Western Conference Final playoff rematch against Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City. 

The 2W-2L-2D ‘Caps are coming off a hard-fought draw against Sacramento Republic FC last weekend at Thunderbird Stadium and are hoping to use that momentum to knock off a Rangers team that are currently ahead of them in the standings.

WFC2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey is coming off a performance that both head coach Rich Fagan and midfielder David Norman Jr. described as “fantastic”. Richey made three big saves early in the game and was a brick wall picking up his second clean sheet of the season. Outside of his stellar play, it has been Richey’s leadership in the locker room and on the pitch that has impressed Fagan. In four games this season, Richey has made 14 saves, allowed three goals and has an 82.4 save percentage. 

Recent signing Nazeem Bartman got his first taste of USL action on Saturday, subbing into the game in the final minutes and will be looking to have an impact this weekend in Kansas City. Fagan describes Bartman as a clever player with good footballing qualities and an ability to score. The Cape Town, South Africa native scored 14 goals and added nine assist in 37 appearances for University of South Florida over the last two seasons after previously starring for Tyler Junior College.    

Another player to watch is Gloire Amanda. The 18-year old WFC Residency product has made two starts in six appearances, assisting on one goal and also directly figuring in Thomas Sanner’s match winner against Timbers 2 in Week 4.

On the defensive side of the ball, 2016 WFC2 Player of the Year Sem de Wit looks to build on another impressive season with the ‘Caps. De Wit leads the team with 12 tackles won, 17 interceptions, and 35 duels won. His leadership from the backend guides this young WFC2 team and his dogged defensive play sets the example for the other players to follow. 

The takeaways from the Sacramento Republic FC match was the battle level of the ‘Caps players. The ‘Caps won 53% of duels, 56% of aerial duels and had 25 interceptions. WFC2 competed extremely hard at home and will look to bring that same intensity on the road. 

If the ‘Caps are able use their speed to create off the wing, the quality chances will be there again this weekend, and the most important thing for the ‘Caps will be to finish those opportunities. 

Swope Park Rangers

There’s no place like home for Swope Park Rangers. Rangers haven’t lost a game at home this season and currently sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with a record of 3W-2L-0D.

Swope Park started the season strong, winning their first three games at Children’s Mercy Victory Field but then ran into trouble as they headed out on the road. Currently on a two-game losing streak, in which they have conceded six goals, Swope Park head home looking to return to early season form. 

Kharlton Belmar leads the way for Swope Park up front notching three goals, six shots and six chances in five appearances this season. Belmar had an off year last season scoring only three goals for Timbers 2, but in 2015, he scored an impressive 12 goals in 28 appearances for the Portland side. Against WFC2, Belmar had four goals and two assists in the last two seasons with T2. 

Moving to defence, veteran Christian Duke has been a standout for Swope Park this season. Duke leads all Rangers with nine quality chances, 26 duels won, one assist and has tallied one goal in five appearances. Duke was named Orlando City SC Rookie of the Year in 2014 and led all Swope Park players with 2,540 minutes played in 2016, appearing in all 34 matches.

In net, Swope Park has one the USL’s best in Adrian Zendejas. This year in two appearances, Zendejas has made eight saves, has one clean sheet and only conceded one goal. Last season, he had a perfect 5W-0L-0D record with Rangers collecting three clean sheets, a 0.4 goals-against average and 13 saves. In 2016, his GAA was the best in the USL among goalies who played a minimum 300 minutes. 

Swope Park Rangers are looking to continue their dominance at home on Friday evening by playing a sound defensive game and allowing their skilled players to create offence. They will lean heavily on their veteran core to come out firing from kickoff as they look to get their fourth win of the season against a young Whitecaps FC 2 team. 

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