As the playoff run grew longer, the inaugural Swope Park Rangers team was keen on pointing out — certainly tongue-in-cheek — that it was accomplishing feats the franchise had never experienced before.
A first of a different kind came Sunday — the first postseason loss.
Swope Park fell one victory shy of lifting the United Soccer League Cup, falling 5-1 to the New York Red Bulls II in the championship match Sunday in Harrison, N.J.
Brandon Allen scored a hat trick to help New York end a seven-game winning streak by Swope Park, a development team for Sporting Kansas City.
“We weren’t at our best on a day we had to be at our best,” Rangers coach Marc Dos Santos said in a phone interview. “But let’s be honest — the New York Red Bulls (II) were the best team from the start of the season. They’re a deserved champion.”
The Red Bulls II lost only three of their 30 games this season, earning the top seed from the Eastern Conference. And they pounced early and often Sunday.
Swope Park had allowed just one goal in the first three rounds of the playoffs, but New York scored twice in the opening half in front of its home crowd.
Derrick Etienne opened the scoring in the 18th minute with a well-placed bender from 20 yards out, and Allen followed in the 39th minute after a pass sneaked through the Swope Park defensive line. Allen added two goals in the 85th and 88th minutes to complete his hat track.
When Swope Park still trailing 2-0 in the second half, Tomas Granitto scored off a set piece, an intended pass that instead slipped through the chaos in front of the goal. But the push forward for a tying goal left the Rangers open in the back, and New York finished off its championship with three late goals.
“I think our team has to be proud of what it accomplished,” said Dos Santos, who has agreed to become the coach next season for the San Francisco Deltas, an expansion team in the North American Soccer League. “Just a bad night in a big game. That’s part of soccer.”