Trailing their Tuesday opponent by a mere point in the Western Conference, Republic FC will turn their attention to fourth-place Swope Park Rangers as the Sacramento side aims to lock up three points on the road.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s clash, get to the know opponent, Swope Park Rangers.
After serving as an assistant in 2017, Paulo Nagamura earned a promotion to the head coaching position for the Swope Park Rangers prior to the club’s 2018 campaign. The former Sporting Kansas City player became the third head coach in club history after helping guide SPR to a second straight Western Conference championship and a 2017 runner-up finish in the USL Cup Final.
A midfielder by trade, Nagamura came up through the system of his hometown club of São Paulo before being sold to Arsenal and playing with the English youth and reserve sides. Following his youth career, the Brazillian footballer signed a professional contract with Los Angeles Galaxy, kickstarting his 11-year career in MLS. Earning a starting spot in his first season, Nagamura helped the Galaxy take home an MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in 2005 before being selected by Toronto FC in the 2006 MLS Expansion Draft. His stint with TFC was short-lived, as he was traded to Chivas USA before his fifth appearance with the club. From 2007 to 2011, Nagamura made 99 appearances for Chivas, scoring nine goals in that time. He spent part of the 2010 season with Liga MX side Tigres before ending his senior career with Sporting Kansas City where he made 95 caps, winning the U.S. Open Cup in 2012 and 2015 as well as MLS Cup in 2013.
Following a 2017 season in which he led SPR in scoring, March’s USL Player of the Month, Kharlton Belmar has continued his success through 2018, racking up a USL-leading nine goals in just nine games played. The 5-foot-11 forward has put 12 shots on frame and has converted his 20 attempts at a 45 percent rate. Belmar proves a threat from close range, as all nine of his goals have come within the box. The 25-year-old has also collected two assists on the season and holds a 81 percent pass accuracy within his own half.
Guinean forward Hadji Barry has also proved electric on the attack while also working as a playmaker through his 17 appearances this season. Barry, who leads the team in assists (4) has connected for 21 key passes while also putting 12 shots on target. The 25-year-old forward sits just three goals back of Belmar as the second-highest scorer for Swope Park Rangers, converting six of his shots for goals.
Forward Tyler Blackwood could be suiting up against his former club, having spent 2017 with Republic FC. Blackwood has 15 matches under his belt with Swope Park, 13 of those starts, and two goals so far this season. Another familiar face is Chase Minter, who has one assist in 16 matches played.
Swope Park Rangers have made their home this season at Sporting Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Park. The soccer-specific stadium has a seating capacity of 18,467 seats but can expand to hold as many as 25,000 fans for concerts or other special events. The venue has hosted events such as the MLS All-Star Game, United States Men’s National Team matches, and MLS Cup, setting a stadium soccer attendance record of 21,650 during the latter.
Republic FC and Swope Park Rangers will face off on Tuesday for the first time since their clash in the 2017 Western Conference Semifinals, where SPR defeated Sacramento 1-0. The two sides will meet for a 5:30 pm (PT) kick at Children’s Mercy Park.
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