Swope Park Rangers vs LA Galaxy II 27-08-2016
Swope Park Rangers 2:1 LA Galaxy II (USL)
Children’s Mercy Victory Field – Kansas City, Missouri
Attendance- 984 (Away 5)
After a short break from football traveling, it’s time to hit the road and get a fix of footie. I had family reasons to travel through Kansas City, but unfortunately Sporting Kansas City was playing in Philadelphia. A little research helped me locate Swope Park Rangers, the reserve side for SKC, hosting LA Galaxy II in the USL, the third tier of American soccer.
After my previous visit to Kansas City, when it was so unbearably hot that I was forced to leave early in the second half for the first time in many games, this was a 7:30pm kickoff. After checking into the hotel, my fiancé and one of her daughters headed to Swope Soccer Village in southern KC, which is part of Swope Park. Swope Park is the largest municipal park in the US with plenty to do, but of interest to me is the soccer village.
As a member of the KC Caulderon, which got me good seats at the extraordinarily hot game a few weeks earlier, I was able to get tickets for $12 instead of $20, which is still a lot of money for third tier football. Additionally, like everywhere in the US, the scarf set me back $25. At this point, I’d give a chunk of my liver to find football clubs in the US selling scarves for $10, but alas, I’ll just have to make do and figure out another way to demolish my liver.
We arrived about 45 minutes early, and found decent seats but then about 10 minutes before kick-off, we were advised that the game would be delayed due to lightning and we should wait in our cars. Now, this is the second game I’ve tried to take some of partners kids to so I can infect them with my love of football. The first was a month earlier, for a Chicago Fire MLS match. That trip was a horror show, after 5 hours in the car (with 4 girls), thunderstorms prevented the game from starting at 7:30pm. We weren’t allowed into the stadium, and were forced to wait in the car for almost 90 minutes through on and off storms. We finally gave up to go find food, since the $20 to park meant we couldn’t leave to eat and come back. The game did finally go ahead but I missed out on it. As I was sitting in the car, watching the lightning, I was beginning to think the my partners kids are cursed.
Luckily, after about 35 minutes, the storms ended and the team informed us that the game would start at 8:15pm. We went back into a stadium that was a touch basic. Built in 2014 as part of a training complex by Sporting Kansas City, in conjunction with the city of Kansas City. It includes 5 3G fields that are used almost constantly by the community soccer leagues, and 2 grass pitches that are used by SKC. Sporting KC also built a facility which houses the locker rooms, offices, gyms and physio suite, but the jewel was the Children’s Mercy Victory Field.
The stadium has a grass pitch, and has a berm behind one goal to sit on, and low bleachers behind the other. The sides had a couple sets of higher bleachers in midfield to make this a nice little stadium. They had some limited food options, but it was a beautiful setting even in the middle of a large metropolitan area. In addition to being Swope Park Rangers, this facility is used for the Missouri state soccer championship and the Big 12 (college) championship.
As we settled in for the game, I enjoyed being able to sit right behind the bench and being able to hear everything said on the pitch. It was enjoyable, after a delayed offside call, listening as the Galaxy coaching staff felt it necessary to explain to the fourth official that they were the team in white. It was also interesting to the referee dress a player down after he swore at an assistant just before halftime.
The Galaxy started well, scoring in the second minute which excited the 5 traveling LA Galaxy fans (1,600 miles away) who were seated across from us. However, the Rangers grew into the game with their left winger, Mark Gonzalez, impressing as he was tireless getting up and down the pitch, and had some serious pace. The Galaxy struggled progressing the ball through the midfield, resorting to long balls forward. This allowed the Rangers to control the ball, scoring in the 16th and the 25th minute from excellently delivered crosses.
They went into halftime with Swope Park leading 2-1, and unfortunately I missed the second half as we left. As I try to convince my partners children (teenagers) to love football, I’ve discovered that feeding them is a non-stop sport. I never leave games early, but this has happened twice in two games when I travel with them. That is something for me to work on in the future, but it was a good little stadium and a decent quality of play.