Three days before the Swope Park Rangers were set to play in the first playoff match in club history, head coach Marc Dos Santos stressed the need for an approach that mirrored the previous six months. And so, as the team prepared for the United Soccer League postseason, the training sessions remain unchanged. The meeting schedule was unaltered. The scouting reports offered uniformity.
On Friday, the result remained consistent, too.
The Swope Park Rangers extended their hot streak into the playoffs with a 3-0 victory Friday against LA Galaxy II in the USL Western Conference quarterfinals at Swope Soccer Village.
The Rangers, a development team for Sporting Kansas City, advanced to the Western Conference semifinals and await the winner of top-seeded Sacramento and eighth-seeded Orange County, who will meet Saturday evening.
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“In our first season, we want to do something big,” said goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas, who made four saves Friday in the shutout. “We made history by making the playoffs. It’s not done. We have to keep grinding.”
Kris Tyrpak used his head to supply the game-wining goal in the 76th minute Friday, 11 minutes after Swope Park was given a one-man advantage. LA Galaxy II midfielder Jose Villarreal was ejected in the 65th minute for his second yellow card of the match.
Late-game substitute Mark Anthony Gonzalez added two late stoppage-time goals for the Rangers.
“It was one of those (situations) where you’re like, ‘I have too much time,’ ” Tyrpak said of his goal that broke a scoreless tie. “You start to over-think it. (Tyler) Pasher played a great ball across. I was lucky to be there and finish it.”
The Rangers entered the postseason with six victories in their last seven games to finish 14-10-6 during the regular season. The streak propelled the team from the margins of a playoff position into the Western Conference’s fourth seed.
Little changed Friday.
In a physical match, Swope Park was stout defensively, though Zendejas was forced to make a pair of quality first-half saves against LA Galaxy II forward Ariel Lassiter. Dos Santos called the match an evenly-played one.
Until the ejection.
Already playing with a yellow card, Villarreal connected his elbow to Rangers defender Tommy Meyer to draw the second card.
“There’s no doubt this game was (changed) with the sending off,” Dos Santos said. “We knew when it was 11 (versus) 11, it was very tight. Either of the two teams could’ve won. Playing against 10, it changed a lot of the game.”
The Rangers took advantage, breaking through with Tyrpak’s goal and eventually sealing the first playoff victory for the first-year team.
The Western Conference semifinal match will be played next weekend. The better-seeded team will host the match.
“Before every game, Marc says to play it like it’s a championship game,” Tyrpak said. “Today was just another one.”
SWOPE PARK RANGERS 3
GALAXY II 0
KANSAS CITY: Adrian Zendejas; Ever Alvado, Oumar Ballo, Amer Didic, Tommy Meyer; Christian Duke, Ualefi, Ayrton (Mark Anthony Gonzalez, 74th), Tyler Pasher, Dane Kelly (Johnny Grant, 90th), Kris Tyrpak (Emmanuel Appiah, 87th).
LOS ANGELES: Clement Diop; Josh Turnley, Jefrey Payeras, Bradley Diallo, Nathan Smith, Jose Villarreal, Alejandro Covarrubias (Ethan Zubak, 83rd), Jaime Villarreal, Denzel Slager Bryam Rebellon, 83rd), Ariel Lassiter, Adonis Amaya (Bradford Jamieson IV, 66th).
Kansas City: 3; Kris Tyrpak (Tyler Pasher) 75th, Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Ualefi) 90th+, Mark Anthony Gonzalez (Ualefi) 90th+.
Los Angeles: None.
Shots on goal
Announced attendance: 1,885.