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Match Preview: Sacramento Republic FC vs Swope Park Rangers

By Eddie Ralph, 10/27/17, 10:30AM PDT

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October 28, 2017; 2:00 p.m. PDT Kickoff

Sacramento Republic FC continue their 2017 USL Cup Playoff campaign when they travel to Kansas to take on Swope Park Rangers on Saturday, Oct. 28. Kickoff is 2:00 p.m. PT at Children’s Mercy Park. The match will be broadcast live on CW31 and streamed live at SacRepublicFC.com/matchday-guide. Republic FC are hosting six watch parties at de Veres Irish Pub and Chando’s Cantina in Downtown Sacramento, SacTown Sports Bar in Old Sac, The Brass Tap in Rocklin, Grist Beer Hall in Folsom and Bull Wings in Elk Grove.

The Rangers won the regular season series, winning the first matchup 1-0 on Apr. 15 before the two clubs tied 2-2 on Aug. 23. The two sides have met just one other time, a 1-1 draw on May 28, 2015.

Republic FC advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals with a penalty shootout win over Real Monarchs SLC after drawing 1-1 through 120 minutes. Republic FC became the first eighth seed to upset the USL regular season champion in the Quarterfinals since the Harrisburg City Islanders defeated Orlando City SC in 2014.  Republic FC would defeat the Islanders in the 2014 USL Cup to win their first USL Championship.

Midfielder Luis Espino scored Republic FC’s lone goal in the 49th minute. Forward Wilson Kneeshaw fought off a defender before sending a ball into the middle where Espino redirected the ball into the back of the net.  The goal was the second for Espino since joining the club in September.  He now has two goals in seven appearances with the club.

The assist was the sixth in all competitions for Kneeshaw.  The forward is tied with fellow forward Sammy Ochoa and midfielder Danny Barrera for second on the club in assists, trailing only defender James Kiffe’s seven.  Kneeshaw is also tied for third on the club with six goals on the season.  Kneeshaw has scored nine goals and added seven assists since joining the club last season.

Goalkeeper Evan Newton came up big against the Monarchs, making two saves in the match before making two more during the penalty shootout.  The shootout was the third of Newton’s USL Playoff career.  

Swope Park continued their domination of the Western Conference playoffs with their penalty shootout win over Phoenix Rising FC.  The match was played over two days due to lighting storms in the area, but the Rangers were able to pull level late after Didier Drogba scored a goal in the first period of extra time, forcing penalties where they would prevail 4-2.  The Rangers are 4-0 all-time in Western Conference playoff matches after winning the Western Conference last season before losing to New York Red Bulls II the USL Cup.

2015 USL Rookie of the Year Kharlton Belmar had another strong year, leading the Rangers in goals with 14, while recording two assists.  The forward recorded the assist on Swope Park’s lone goal on Saturday when he connected with Amer Didic in the 109th minute.

Former Republic FC forward Cameron Iwasa may feature in the match against his old team.  Iwasa made 22 appearances for the Rangers this season, scoring two goals and adding an assist.  Iwasa scored a Republic FC single-season record 12 goals and recorded three assists in 30 appearances in 2016. 

Republic FC are hosting six watch parties at de Veres Irish Pub and Chando’s Cantina in Downtown Sacramento, SacTown Sports Bar in Old Sac, The Brass Tap in Rocklin, Grist Beer Hall in Folsom and Bull Wings in Elk Grove. Chando’s Cantina is located at 805 15th St., de Vere’s Irish Pub is located at 1521 L St. and SacTown Sports Bar is located at 106 J St. in Sacramento, while Grist Beer Hall is located at 310 Palladio Pkwy in Folsom, The Brass Tap is located at 5150 Commons Dr. in Rocklin and Bull Wings is located 9625 E Stockton Blvd in Elk Grove. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for best seating.

The match will be broadcast live on CW31 and streamed live in the USL Match Center and at SacRepublicFC.com/matchday-guide. Updates of the match will also be provided via Twitter @SacRepublicFC or using #SPRvSAC or #USLPlayoffs.