Playoff round 3 roundup: Conference Final
Well folks, Louisville City’s season may have come to an end last weekend, but there was another match that went down on the other side of the bracket to determine who is to square off against New York Red Bulls II. Unfortunately it was between two MLS reserve sides, so it’ll be an all-MLS 2 team affair for the USL trophy.
(4) Swope Park Rangers 3, (6) Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 0
Swope Park came into the game on an impressive playoff run, knocking 3 by LA Galaxy II in the first round and grinding out a 2-1 win against Orange County with 9 men. Vancouver earned a narrow first half upset at Colorado Springs in the first round, and again won with a last second goal against OKC last week in Vancouver. A consequence of having both their Center backs sent off in the proceeding match, Swope Park had to cycle in some reserve players.
Swope Park got ahold of what was an otherwise hectic match in the 8th minute when a technically sound Kris Tyrpak shot off of a rebound saw the hosts leap out to a strong position early. Vancouver had a convincing bout of possession after the restart, but failed to garner a reasonably challenging shot on goal. The hold Vancouver had on the game was broken when they turned it over in SPR’s third and they launched an expeditious counter that ended up with a second Kris Tyrpak goal off of a textbook Tyler Pasher cross in the 32nd minute. SPR continued to push and looked quite strong but failed to build on their commanding positon before the break. The match continued in this vein for the majority of the match, with Swope Park looking the much stronger side.
They put things beyond a shadow of a doubt in the 89th minute when Dane Kelly capitalized on a fast break when Vancouver where over extended. Rangers Midfielder and role player Nansel Selbol earned himself a red card when he made a harsh challenge in added time, so he wont be eligible for the final.
Forward and major goal scoring threat (9 in the regular season and 3 in the playoffs) Mark-Anthony Gonzalez had to come out of the match early for the Rangers on after a non-contact injury, it’s unclear whether he will be fit for the final
Swope Park play an exciting brand of ball, airing it out and getting lots of goals while conceding a few as well. I’m not convinced they matchup well against NYRBII, whose size and talent is formidable against any USL side.
The final will be contested next Sunday at 8pm at Red Bull Arena. It will be broadcast on ESPNU.